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February 22 2015

Did dark matter kill the dinosaurs?


Every so often, the fossil record shows, ecological disasters wipe large numbers of species off the face of Earth. These mass extinctions occur roughly every 26 million to 30 million years—about the same interval at which our solar system passes through the plane of the Milky Way. Putting two and two together, some researchers have proposed that clouds of dust and gas in the galactic plane might disrupt the orbits of far-flung comets and trigger planet-smacking collisions. A new study suggests an additional culprit may lie behind those times of woe: dark matter.

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February 22 2015

Plants survive better through mass extinctions than animals


At least 5 mass extinction events have profoundly changed the history of life on Earth. But a new study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg shows that plants have been very resilient to those events.

For over 400 million years, plants have played an essential role in almost all terrestrial environments and covered most of the world’s surface. During this long history, many smaller and a few major periods of extinction severely affected Earth’s ecosystems and its biodiversity.

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February 22 2015

Mohenjo-Daro: An Ancient Nuclear Mystery


Mohenjo-Daro. No, that’s not a mystical incantation, it’s the name of an ancient archaeological site in Sindh, Pakistan. You may have heard of it, it’s a particularly interesting part of our history, and is connected to one of the most enigmatic lost cultures that has ever existed – The Indus Valley Civilization.

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February 22 2015

Embracing Stone Age Couple Found in Greek Cave


Strange and surprising findings have been reported from ongoing excavations at Alepotrypa Cave, a site in the Peloponnesus that one archaeologist called "a Neolithic Pompeii," the Greek Ministry of Culture, Education, and Religious Affairs announced.

The most striking discovery was a burial from roughly 5,800 years ago containing two well-preserved adult human skeletons, one male and one female, with arms and legs interlocked in an embrace.

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February 22 2015

Scan Reveals This Buddha Statue Has A Mummy Inside


This is no ordinary Buddha statue. As the CT scan at the right clearly shows, there's a mummy concealed inside!

This fascinating artifact is currently on display as part of a mummy-themed exhibit at the Netherlands' Drents Museum (link also offers a glimpse of a particularly rad cat mummy).

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February 22 2015

Is This the Tomb of a Biblical Prophet—and Will It Survive?


Alqosh, Iraq—The 800-year-old synagogue believed to house the tomb of the biblical prophet Nahum could become the next victim of Iraq's ancient and modern conflicts.

The crumbling stone walls, weakened by weeds sprouting from cracks, tilt precariously over a sidewalk; the decorative buttresses that prop up the pockmarked roof appear ready to cave in.

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February 22 2015

Race is on to map endangered archaeological sites


A project has been launched to record the archaeological heritage of the Middle East and North Africa, arguably the most significant region in the world for its archaeological remains. It is under increasing threat from massive and sustained population explosion, agricultural development, urban expansion, warfare, and looting.


Related: Ancient Peruvian Site Damaged by Landowner

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February 22 2015

What is the oldest city in the world?


Mark Twain declared that the Indian city of Varanasi was ‘older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend’. He was, of course, wrong. So which exactly is the world’s most ancient continuously inhabited city?

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February 21 2015

Ancient and modern cities obeyed same mathematical rule


One of the most populous metropolises on the planet, Mexico City, stands atop the ruins of the 15th century Aztec capital Tenochtitlán. The two may not appear to have much in common, but according to a new study they obeyed the same mathematical formula. Scientists have found that—despite major differences in culture, government, and technology—the productivity of both ancient and modern cities grew faster than their populations did. The finding could lead to ways to improve the efficiency of today’s urban centers.

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February 21 2015

Soldiers could have their bones copied and 3D printed in case of injury


Soldiers could be scanned before they enter the battlefield and a virtual 'twin' kept online so that new bones could be 3D printed when they get injured, scientists have suggested.

Experts at the University of Nevada are in discussion with the US military to create records of ‘virtual’ soldiers which could be referred to by army surgeons.


Related: Doctors store 1,600 digital hearts for big data study

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February 21 2015

Immune cells -- learning from experience


Immunologists have shown that our immune cells can learn on the job.

Even better, some cells remember what they have learnt, and can apply it in response to future challenges.

The research, published as the cover story of the first 2015 edition of the journal Immunity, focused on T-helper cells, a type of T cell that helps other immune cells by releasing messenger substances or cytokines.

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February 21 2015

Scientists announce anti-HIV agent so powerful it can work in a vaccine


In a remarkable new advance against the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have announced the creation of a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might work as part of an unconventional vaccine.


Related: HIV and syphilis biomarkers: Smartphone, finger prick, 15 minute diagnosis

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February 21 2015

3D Vaccine Self-Assembles To Fight Cancer and Infectious Disease


Part of what makes treating cancer so tricky is that cancer cells are just normal cells that have gone haywire. It is sometimes hard for the body to recognize these aberrant cells to dispose of them via the immune system, and it is also hard to design drugs that can effectively kill the cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. A new paper published in Nature Biotechnology from senior author David Mooney of Harvard University describes a new vaccine that is able to self-assemble into a 3D structure and manipulate immune cells, teaching them to attack cancer as well as infectious disease.

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February 21 2015

LED Skylight Authentically Recreates the Sun’s Rays


Sunlight is a key factor architects take into account in their designs, but in most cases, they’re pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature to provide it. However a new innovation may be set to change that.

An Italian company called CoeLux has developed an LED light that impeccably recreates the appearance of sunlight — so well that both human brains and cameras can’t tell the difference. Designers captured the color temperature and intensity of sunlight by recreating the same natural conditions that exist in Earth’s atmosphere, but on a nano scale.

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February 21 2015

This Driverless Car Can Beat a Race Car Driver (Sometimes)


SAN JOSE, Calif. — Driverless cars are all well and good, but surely they can't outdrive flesh-and-blood race car drivers, can they? Actually, it depends on the day.


Related: More electric car charging points in Japan than gas stations

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February 21 2015

Scientists discover the two quietest places in America


If you are craving serenity, researchers from the National Park Service have found the top two quietest places in the contiguous United States: the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.


Related: Noise pollution is making us oblivious to the sound of nature, says researcher

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February 21 2015

Why the Washington Monument Has ‘Shrunk’ By 10 Inches


Symbol of the nation's capital loses a little of its stature

The Washington Monument now stands 10 inches shorter than when it was completed in 1884, or at least that’s what a new government measurement announced Monday suggests.


Related: North american plate shattered speed records a billion years ago

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