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March 24 2015

Young Jupiter wiped out solar system's early inner planets, study says


Before Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars occupied the inner solar system, there may have been a previous generation of planets that were bigger and more numerous – but were ultimately doomed by Jupiter, according to a new study.

If indeed the early solar system was crowded with so-called super-Earths, it would have looked a lot more like the planetary systems found elsewhere in the galaxy, scientists wrote Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Alt: Wandering Jupiter accounts for our unusual solar system

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March 24 2015

Bright spots on Ceres could be active ice


A pair of bright spots glimmering inside an impact crater on the dwarf planet Ceres, mystifying scientists, could be coming from some kind of icy plume or other active geological feature.

New images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show the spots, known as ‘feature number 5’, at changing angles as the dwarf planet rotates in and out of sunlight. The pictures reveal the spots even when they appear near the edge of Ceres, when the sides of the impact crater would normally block the view of anything confined to the bottom.

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March 24 2015

Were Martians wiped out by a nuclear bomb?


In November 2014, plasma physicist Dr John Brandenburg revealed his theory that an ancient civilisation on Mars was massacred in a nuclear attack.

Now, he’s back, and he’s going to be presenting new evidence for his theory at a Nasa-sponsored conference today.

He claims there is no other explanation for his proposal that a ‘weapon’s signature’ remains from the attack on Mars.

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March 24 2015

Universe may be on the brink of collapse (on the cosmological timescale)


Physicists have proposed a mechanism for "cosmological collapse" that predicts that the universe will soon stop expanding and collapse in on itself, obliterating all matter as we know it. Their calculations suggest that the collapse is "imminent"—on the order of a few tens of billions of years or so—which may not keep most people up at night, but for the physicists it's still much too soon.

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March 24 2015

Ancient Doomsday Asteroid Impact Found in Australia


Two vast underground domes are buried under central Australia that researchers have realized are the scars of the biggest and most powerful asteroid impact yet found on Earth. They appear to have been caused by a massive asteroid that broke in two, serving our planet and all life on it with a devastatingly powerful double-punch.

Embedded in the crust 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep, in rock that is 300-600 million years old, the double impact crater has long gone, buried by geological processes, but its imprint in Earth’s crust remains.

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March 24 2015

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say


The Gulf Stream that helps to keep Britain from freezing over in winter is slowing down faster now than at any time in the past millennium according to a study suggesting that major changes are taking place to the ocean currents of the North Atlantic.

Scientists believe that the huge volumes of freshwater flowing into the North Atlantic from the rapidly melting ice cap of Greenland have slowed down the ocean “engine” that drives the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean towards north-west Europe, bringing heat equivalent to the output of a million power stations.

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March 24 2015

Flower-friendly farms 'boost bee populations'


Planting farmland with strips of flowers can boost the number of wild bumblebees, a study has confirmed.

Not only does it attract foraging bees, but it also encourages nesting, say researchers at University of Sussex.

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March 24 2015

Gold in faeces 'is worth millions and could save the environment'


Fortunes could be saved from going down the drain by extracting gold and precious metals from human excrement, scientists suggest.

Sewage sludge contains traces of gold, silver and platinum at levels that would be seen as commercially viable by traditional prospectors. “The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” said Kathleen Smith, of the US Geological Survey.

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March 24 2015

Fiber-Famished Gut Microbes Linked to Poor Health


Your gut is the site of constant turf wars. Hundreds of bacterial species—along with fungi, archaea and viruses—do battle daily, competing for resources. Some companies advocate for consuming more probiotics, live beneficial bacteria, to improve microbial communities in our gut, but more and more research supports the idea that the most powerful approach might be to better feed the good bacteria we already harbor. Their meal of choice? Fiber.

Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern.

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March 24 2015

Do we need to end the 'war' on cancer?


Fight cancer. Beat cancer. Stand up to cancer. Aggressive militant language pervades discourse on the illness. Yet it is questionable whether there is a health benefit in conceiving of cancer as a monolithic enemy.

When people label cancer as an enemy, preventative behaviors that involve limitation and restraint – such as eating less red meat and not smoking – get disregarded or dismissed because fighting involves little self-control.


Related: Monsanto weed killer can 'probably' cause cancer: World Health Organization

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March 24 2015

Sushi parasite inspires worm test for cancer


Dogs do it. Rats do it. Even some people seem to be able to sniff out cancer and other diseases. Now we can add the humble roundworm to the list of super-smellers.

Japanese researchers have discovered that Caenorhabditis elegans worms can detect cancer in people's urine. They are working with technology companies Hitachi and Johnan to turn the finding into a diagnostic test that can be used to catch the disease in its early stages.

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March 24 2015

Peacock feathers don't just look good - they produce infrasound noises to talk to other birds


Peacock tails may be hard to miss, but humans are unaware of the noise created by the bird's pretty plumage. Scientists have shown that peacocks shake their tails to make a noise that is too low for us to hear.

Male birds may make the infrared rumble to scare off an approaching rival or to attract a mate.


Related: A flashy little hummingbird in the Bahamas could get upgraded to full species status, thanks to research that began with noise-making tail feathers

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March 24 2015

Shape-shifting frog discovered in Ecuadorian Andes


A frog in Ecuador's western Andean cloud forest changes skin texture in minutes, appearing to mimic the texture it sits on.

Originally discovered by a Case Western Reserve University PhD student and her husband, a projects manager at Cleveland Metroparks' Natural Resources Division, the amphibian is believed to be the first known to have this shape-shifting capability.

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March 24 2015

Researchers just photographed this extremely cute, endangered mammal for the first time in 20 years


This furry ball of cuteness is an endangered mammal closely related to rabbits and hares. The species was first discovered in 1983 and individuals have rarely been seen since.


Related: River Otter beavers 'native to UK', tests find - "River Otter beavers 'native to UK', tests find"

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March 24 2015

Giant ancient salamander was bigger than a human


Before dinosaurs came along, one of Earth’s top predators was a salamanderlike amphibian that lived in tropical areas of the supercontinent Pangaea. Fossils unearthed from a 30- to 40-centimeter-thick bone bed in southern Portugal suggest the creature was more than 2 meters long, weighed as much as 100 kilograms, and had a broad flat head the size and shape of a toilet seat.

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March 23 2015

Mammoth step forward? Scientists splice Woolly DNA into elephant cells


Scientists at Harvard University are one step closer to bringing Woolly mammoths back to life, after successfully inserting some sequences of mammoth DNA into an elephant genome. The study is yet to be published, though, as there is still work to do.


Alt: Woolly mammoth could roam again as extinct DNA merged with elephant

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March 23 2015

Feathered apes who say thanks with shiny trinkets


Recent reports of crows bestowing oddly touching gifts on people who feed them suggest that there is something rather special about these big-brained, beady-eyed birds. It seems the term "bird brain" may not be synonymous with stupidity after all.

Some find this avian intelligence disturbing. Members of the crow family – which includes ravens, jays and magpies – generally get a bad press for their trickery and thievery. They steal eggs and eat chicks and are thought to be a nuisance to farmers. Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 movie The Birds didn't help their image either.

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