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December 26 2014

Mathematicians Make a Major Discovery About Prime Numbers


In May 2013, the mathematician Yitang Zhang launched what has proven to be a banner year and a half for the study of prime numbers, those numbers that aren’t divisible by any smaller number except 1. Zhang, of the University of New Hampshire, showed for the first time that even though primes get increasingly rare as you go further out along the number line, you will never stop finding pairs of primes that are a bounded distance apart — within 70 million, he proved.

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December 26 2014

Quantum Physics Just Got A Tiny Bit Easier To Understand, As Two Oddities Merge Into One


No one is about to claim that quantum physics is now easy to understand, but maybe it's not quite as devilishly complicated as we thought.

New research suggests that two of the quantum world's most mysterious features--the uncertainty principle and wave-particle duality--are simply two sides of a single coin.

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December 26 2014

Origin of 'theta aurora'—long-standing space mystery—revealed


Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the sun's effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood. Thanks to the joint European Space Agency and NASA's Cluster mission combined with data from a past NASA mission called the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, or IMAGE, a particular type of very high-latitude aurora has now been explained.

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December 26 2014

The Stellar Origins of Your Toothpaste


It may only take brushing your teeth to help you feel connected to the cosmos.

New research suggests that fluorine, an element in toothpaste, may have been forged billions of years ago inside stars that are now long dead. Fluorine is commonly found in products like toothpaste, refrigerants and pharmaceuticals, and it's the 13th most abundant element on Earth.

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December 26 2014

Mercury Once Oozed With Lava—Until the Planet Shrank


SAN FRANCISCO—Smaller things cool faster, so being the solar system’s smallest planet, Mercury cooled rapidly after it formed 4.6 billion years ago. As it cooled, it also shrank—by as much as 6.8 miles in diameter. Now, a new analysis of Mercury’s surface suggests that this shrinking may have abruptly squeezed off volcanic activity that once oozed lava across the planet up until 3.8 billion years ago.

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December 26 2014

New chemical analysis of ancient Martian meteorite provides clues to planet's history of habitabilit


A new analysis of a Martian rock that meteorite hunters plucked from an Antarctic ice field 30 years ago this month reveals a record of the planet's climate billions of years ago, back when water likely washed across its surface and any life that ever formed there might have emerged.

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego, NASA and the Smithsonian Institution report detailed measurements of minerals within the meteorite in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

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December 26 2014

Meteoric Evidence Suggests Mars May Have a Subsurface Reservoir


It is a scientific fact that water exists on Mars. Though most of it today consists of water ice in the polar regions or in subsurface areas near the temperate zones, the presence of H²O has been confirmed many times over. It is evidenced by the sculpted channels and outflows that still mark the surface, as well as the presence of clay and mineral deposits that could only have been formed by water. Recent geological surveys provide more evidence that Mars’ surface was once home to warm, flowing water billions of years ago.

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December 26 2014

The Frosted Slopes of Mars


The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter constantly watches the red planet’s surface, keeping tabs on the Martian seasons.

In this observation, which covers an area of about 1.5 kilometers by 3 kilometers, the slopes of an equatorial crater are detailed, showing intricate gullies covered in ice. The presence of gullies in the crater rim suggest geological processes are occurring.

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December 26 2014

Scientists 'map' water vapor in Martian atmosphere


Russian scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), together with their French and American colleagues, have created a 'map' of the distribution of water vapour in Mars' atmosphere. Their research includes observations of seasonal variations in atmospheric concentrations using data collected over ten years by the Russian-French SPICAM spectrometer aboard the Mars Express orbiter. This is the longest period of observation and provides the largest volume of data about water vapour on Mars.

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December 25 2014

Students aim to put cyanobacteria on Mars to generate oxygen


Mars is a very harsh and hostile environment for future human explorers and like any other known planet it has no breathable air. That could change someday, and it may be soon enough for our generation to witness it, as the student team from Germany has a bold vision to make a first step to terraform the Red Planet, turning it more Earth-like. The plan is to send cyanobacteria to Mars to generate oxygen out of carbon dioxide which is the main component of Martian atmosphere (nearly 96%). "Cyanobacteria do live in conditions on Earth where no life would be expected.

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December 25 2014

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus


Nasa scientists are working on a city made out of huge balloons in the clouds above Venus, which will allow astronauts to explore the planet without venturing onto its hostile surface.

The airship-like balloons would carry two astronauts each on a 30-day mission.


Alt: NASA considers possibilities for manned mission to Venus

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December 25 2014

A New Way to Reach Mars Safely, Anytime and on the Cheap


Getting spacecraft to Mars is quite a hassle. Transportation costs can soar into the hundreds of millions of dollars, even when blasting off during "launch windows"—the optimal orbital alignments of Earth and Mars that roll around only every 26 months. A huge contributor to that bottom line? The hair-raising arrivals at the Red Planet. Spacecraft screaming along at many thousands of kilometers per hour have to hit the brakes hard, firing retrorockets to swing into orbit. The burn can require hundreds of pounds of extra fuel, lugged expensively off Earth, and comes with some risk of failure that could send the craft careening past or even right into Mars.

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December 25 2014

Make it so!: Nebraska man developing world’s first ‘warp drive’ in his garage


A 62-year-old Nebraska man is working on what he believes will be a functional “warp drive,” with plans to experiment with a small craft as early as next summer, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

“Within 6 months from now we’ll be able to demonstrate lifting off the ground,” David Pares said. “The aftermath of that will be quite revolutionary, in the sense that the motors can work within the Earth’s atmosphere, can work in space. This will allow our country, the United States, to be a leader in space technology.”.

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December 25 2014

Airplanes finally go hybrid-electric


An aircraft with a parallel hybrid engine – the first ever to be able to recharge its batteries in flight – has been successfully tested in the UK, an important early step towards cleaner, low-carbon air travel.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, in association with Boeing, have successfully tested the first aircraft to be powered by a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system.


Related: ‘Bagel plane’: Airbus seeks to patent bizarre UFO-like aircraft

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December 25 2014

Google's driverless car is now "fully functional"


Google has updated its prototype self-driving vehicle to make it road worthy, adding headlights and manual steering and braking to comply with road rules in California.

"We're unwrapping the best holiday gift we could've imagined: the first real build of our self-driving vehicle prototype," said Google in a statement published via its own social network G+.

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December 25 2014

Jeans made that will prevent 'digital pickpocketing'


A pair of jeans containing material that blocks wireless signals is being developed in conjunction with anti-virus firm Norton.

The trousers are intended to stop thieves hacking into radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged passports or contactless payment cards.

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December 25 2014

First scientific report shows police body-worn-cameras can prevent unacceptable use-of-force


As President Obama pledges investment in body-worn-camera technology for police officers, researchers say cameras induce 'self-awareness' that can prevent unacceptable uses-of-force seen to have tragic consequences in the US over the past year—from New York to Ferguson—but warn that cameras have implications for prosecution and data storage.

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