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October 17 2014

Carnivores help trees thrive without thorns, study says


The presence of carnivores helps plants without thorny defences thrive, a study of life on the savannah reveals.

Researchers found that species without thorns thrived in areas favoured by carnivores because plant-eating animals deemed it too risky to graze at these sites.

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October 17 2014

Ancient fossils confirmed among our strangest cousins


More than 100 years since they were first discovered, some of the world's most bizarre fossils have been identified as distant relatives of humans, thanks to the work of University of Adelaide researchers.

The fossils belong to 500-million-year-old blind water creatures, known to scientists as "vetulicolians" (pronounced: ve-TOO-lee-coal-ee-ans).

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October 17 2014

Illuminating! Ancient Slab May Be Sundial-Moondial


A strange slab of rock discovered in Russia more than 20 years ago appears to be a combination sundial and moondial from the Bronze Age, a new study finds.

The slab is marked with round divots arranged in a circle, and an astronomical analysis suggests that these markings coincide with heavenly events, including sunrises and moonrises.

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October 17 2014

Largest Pottery Workshop of Greek Antiquity Found


German archeologists have discovered the largest industrial quarter of the Greek world, during an excavation in Sicily.

Streching for more than 3,200 feet, the craft district relied on about 80 kilns for the production of ceramics.

“The largest one is 17 feet in diameter, making it the biggest kiln ever found in a Greek city,” Martin Bentz, an archeologist at the University of Bonn.

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October 17 2014

Britain's greatest treasure hoard reveals how goldsmiths fooled the Anglo-Saxon world


Scientists, examining Britain’s greatest Anglo-Saxon gold treasure collection, have discovered that it isn’t quite as golden as they thought.

Tests on the famous Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon treasure, a vast gold and silver hoard found by a metal detectorist five years ago, have now revealed that the 7th century Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths used sophisticated techniques to make 12-18 karat gold look like 21-23 karat material.

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October 17 2014

Metal solves mystery of flames that inspired Homer


IN SOUTHERN Turkey, there are fires that never go out. The flames have been alight for millennia, but the source of the methane that fuels them was a mystery – until now.

The seeping gas feeds dozens of half-metre-high flames at the site, called Yanartas, Turkish for "flaming stone". The flames are believed to have inspired Homer to create the fire-breathing Chimera in his Iliad.

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October 17 2014

Lighting cities with cheap, glaring LEDs is a dim move


This month three men shared the Nobel prize in physics for their invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In its citation, the Nobel committee declared: "Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps."


Related: 'Holy grail' of lighting invented using LEDs that consume 85% less energy than traditional bulbs but are just as bright

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October 17 2014

Saturn's moon Mimas might have its own subsurface sea


There's more to Mimas than meets the eye. The wobbles of one of Saturn's smallest moons hint at an unusual make-up below the surface – perhaps even an ocean of water hidden underground.

Mimas isn't the first of Saturn's moon to show signs of being soggy. Enceladus spouts plumes of water at its south pole, perhaps seeded by a subsurface ocean.

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October 17 2014

Dark matter may have been detected – streaming from the sun’s core


An unusual signal picked up by a European space observatory could be the first direct detection of dark matter particles, astronomers say.

The findings are tentative and could take several years to check, but if confirmed they would represent a dramatic advance in scientists’ understanding of the universe.

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October 17 2014

Plasma 'bombs' and tornadoes detected on the Sun


The first detailed view of a poorly understood region of the Sun reveals plasma 'bombs', powerful tornadoes, and supersonic jets that may be the start of the solar wind.

These observations, reported in five papers in the journal Science, will help scientists determine how massive amounts of energy generated by the Sun are transported from its surface to its outer atmosphere.

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October 17 2014

New Exotic Particle Could Help Explain What Holds Matter Together


A new exotic particle has been hiding out amidst the gobs of data collected by the world's largest atom smasher, physicists have discovered.

The new particle, called Ds3*, is a meson — a type of unstable particle made of one quark and one antiquark. Quarks are subatomic particles and are the most basic building blocks of matter that make up protons and neutrons.

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October 17 2014

Suspended Animation In Space Travel: What Scientists Still Need To Learn


The first astronauts who head off to Mars might make the entire 180-day journey while they’re fast asleep. In a NASA-commissioned study on human stasis, aerospace engineers at SpaceWorks have found that the benefits of placing a crew in suspended animation for the duration of the journey could be legion. Without living spaces or kitchen facilities, the ship carrying the crew could be lighter and smaller. With everyone basically in hibernation, with a lower metabolic rate, future missions can reduce consumables like food and water by up to 70 percent.

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October 17 2014

What Will It Be Like to Live in a Dome for 8 Months, Pretending It's Mars?


On Wednesday, three men and three women will step inside a thousand-square-foot dome on the north side of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. For the next eight months, they will be cut off from the outside world. The team will simulate life at a space station on Mars as part of a project called HI-SEAS, sponsored by NASA and led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The eight-month project is the second of three missions sponsored by NASA studying human performance on long-duration isolation missions. It's NASA's longest Mars simulation to date.

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October 17 2014

Mars colonists 'would start dying after 68 days'


A Dutch entrepreneur’s plan to launch a one-way trip to Mars funded by a reality TV show has been criticized by scientists who say that current technology means that the colonists would start dying after just 68 days.


Related: Mars One Dustup: Founder Says Mission Won’t Fail As MIT Study Predicts

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October 16 2014

Mars' Atmosphere is Leaching Out Into Space


Early results from NASA’s recently arrived MAVEN Mars spacecraft show an extensive, tenuous cloud of hydrogen surrounding the Red Planet, the result of water breaking down in the atmosphere

MAVEN, an acronym for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, arrived on Sept. 21 to help answer questions about what caused a planet that was once warm and wet to turn into the cold, dry desert that appears today.


Alt: Mars Losing Parts of Itself

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October 16 2014

Want to Stay Healthy? You'll Need to Become a Human-Animal Hybrid.


Biologists have been mixing the DNA of different animals since the 1970s, but the idea of injecting the genes of animals into humans remains taboo. Called transgenics, it's a practice that could cure illness in the future — and eventually reshape our species. Here's what you need to know about it.

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October 16 2014

Change your walking style, change your mood


Our mood can affect how we walk — slump-shouldered if we're sad, bouncing along if we're happy. Now researchers have shown it works the other way too — making people imitate a happy or sad way of walking actually affects their mood.

Subjects who were prompted to walk in a more depressed style, with less arm movement and their shoulders rolled forward, experienced worse moods than those who were induced to walk in a happier style, according to the study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

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