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October 24 2014

A musician composes a solar soundtrack


Robert Alexander converts solar data into sound, revealing hidden messages from our star

Before tuning in to the rhythms of the sun, Robert Alexander (left) watched dancers’ movements and translated them into music. “When they got bigger,” he says, “the sound would get bigger.”

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October 24 2014

Organic Molecules in Titan's Atmosphere Appear to Defy Conventional Thinking


While studying the atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan, scientists discovered intriguing zones of organic molecules unexpectedly shifted away from its north and south poles. These misaligned features seem to defy conventional thinking about Titan’s windy atmosphere, which should quickly smear out such off-axis concentrations. These newobservations give us new insights into how organic molecules, the building blocks of life, form and evolve in a planet-like environment.

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October 24 2014

Exomoons Could Be Abundant Sources Of Habitability


With about 4,000 planet candidates from the Kepler Space Telescope data to analyze so far, astronomers are busy trying to figure out questions about habitability. What size planet could host life? How far from its star does it need to be? What would its atmosphere need to be made of?

Look at our own solar system, however, and there's a big gap in the information we need. Most of the planets have moons, so surely at least some of the Kepler finds would have them as well. Tracking down these tiny worlds, however, is a challenge.

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October 24 2014

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?


In February of 1960, the American magazine Look ran a cover story that asked, "Should a Girl Be First in Space?" It was a sensational headline representing an audacious idea at the time. And as we all know, the proposal fell short.


Alt: As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men

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October 24 2014

Hovering 'UFO' found in 16th Century painting in monastery


A strange disc pouring smoke and hovering over buildings has been found in a monastery wall painting thought to date from the 16th century - and UFO researchers claim it is just one of many old paintings which seem to show evidence of visitors from another world.

The image is painted on the wall on a 14th century church in Sighisoara - thought to the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure on whom the Dracula legend is based.

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October 24 2014

Real-Life Tractor Beam Pulls in Particles


The invisible force that pulls in the Millennium Falcon spacecraft to the Death Star in "Star Wars" movies is still far from becoming a reality, but physicists have developed a miniature version of sorts: a tractor beam that can reel in tiny particles.


Alt: Tractor beam breaks distance record

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October 24 2014

The day UFOs stopped play


Sixty years ago a football match ground to a halt when unidentified flying objects were spotted above a stadium in Florence. Did aliens come to earth? If not, what were they?

It was 27 October 1954, a typically crisp autumn day in Tuscany. The mighty Fiorentina club was playing against its local rival Pistoiese.

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October 24 2014

Wind farms outstrip nuclear power


The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.

Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%.

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October 24 2014

Cigarette ash can clean arsenic from water


As a result of mining and other industries, the toxin arsenic has contaminated groundwater at high levels in countries such as China, Chile, Hungary and Mexico. The poison is odourless and tasteless so it’s hard to detect, but it can cause skin discolouration, stomach pain, partial paralysis and a range of other serious health problems.

Technology already exists to help eliminate arsenic from water, but it’s expensive and requires a high level of expertise, which makes it impractical for use in rural and developing regions.

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October 24 2014

World population likely to peak by 2070


World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and Human Capital in the 21st Century. Alternative scenarios included in the projections range from 7 billion to almost 13 billion by 2100. The book was officially launched today at an event at the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

"As women become more educated," says Lutz, "They gain more power over their reproductive decisions and family size, which almost always translates to having fewer children.".

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October 24 2014

World's Longest Snake Has Virgin Birth—First Recorded in Species


Virgin birth has been documented in the world's longest snake for the first time, a recent study says.

An 11-year-old reticulated python named Thelma produced six female offspring in June 2012 at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, where she lives with another female python, Louise. No male had ever slithered anywhere near the 200-pound (91-kilogram), 20-foot-long (6 meters) mother snake.

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October 24 2014

Florida lizards evolve rapidly, within 15 years and 20 generations


Scientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species -- in as little as 15 years -- as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba.

After contact with the invasive species, the native lizards began perching higher in trees, and, generation after generation, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found higher up.

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October 23 2014

Thoroughly modern humans interbred with Neanderthals


When humans hooked up with Neanderthals, we could have wooed them with music and fancy jewellery.

The oldest DNA of a modern human ever to be sequenced shows that the Homo sapiens who interbred with the Neanderthals were very modern – not just anatomically but with modern behaviour including painting, modern tools, music and jewellery.


Alt: 45,000-year-old man was human-Neanderthal mix

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October 23 2014

Myth Busted: Ancient Humans May Not Have Been Redheads


Ancient humans found with red hair weren't necessarily redheads in life, but may have acquired their carrot tops after death, a new study finds.

A team of researchers examined the processes that degrade locks, ranging from exposure to the sun's powerful rays or being eaten away by microbes. These processes, many of which begin while a person or animal is still alive, can leave hair with an unnatural, reddish hue.

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October 23 2014

Seeking 'absolute zero', copper cube gets chillingly close


An Italian lab has cooled a copper vessel with a volume of a cubic meter to within a tiny fraction of "absolute zero", setting a world record, the National Nuclear Physics Institute said Tuesday.

"No experiment on Earth has ever cooled a similar mass or volume to temperatures this low; similar conditions are also not expected to arise in Nature".

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October 23 2014

Scientists look to mine metals from plants


Inside a lab at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, soil samples sit under a row of a glowing light bulbs hanging from a track only a short distance above them. In another room, a centrifuge hums as beakers of Nyquil-colored liquids sit on a nearby shelf. Standard white lab coats hang on hooks outside.

This generic-looking lab feels worlds away from the gritty, dusty mines of Australia—but this is where scientists hope to chart a new path for the industry here, and across the world.

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October 23 2014

Milk Grown in a Lab Is Humane and Sustainable. But Can It Catch On?


The world's first test-tube hamburger has already been synthesized and cooked at a cost of more than $300,000. Now a pair of young bioengineers in Silicon Valley are trying to produce the first glass of artificial milk, without a cow and with the help of genetically engineered yeast.

Like the creators of in vitro burgers, the scientists behind yeast-culture dairy are concerned about animal welfare and agricultural sustainability—but also about creating a food that will find a mass market.

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