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May 26 2015

Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain


The latest views of Ceres' enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it's obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we'll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of white dots. Still, there are hints of interesting things going on here.

The latest photo is part of a sequence of images shot for navigation purposes on May 16, when the spacecraft orbited 4,500 miles (7,200 km) over the dwarf planet. Of special interest are a series of troughs or cracks in Ceres crust that appear on either side of the crater housing the spots.

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May 26 2015

This inflatable plane could explore the clouds of Venus


Northrop Grumman has a new idea for exploring Venus. Announced earlier this month, the Venus Atmospheric Maneuverability Platform (or VAMP) would let NASA skim Venus's upper atmosphere with an inflatable aircraft, deployed from space.

Since the craft is self-inflated, it would be light enough to stay aloft with little to no energy, but still be maneuverable enough to navigate Venus's significant atmospheric winds and durable enough to withstand the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

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May 26 2015

Strange 'Nasty' Star May Be Spawned by Cannibalism


An ongoing act of cosmic cannibalism may be responsible for the strange appearance and unprecedented behavior of a gigantic star nicknamed “Nasty 1,” a new study reports.

Observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have revealed a disk of gas nearly 3 trillion miles (4.8 trillion kilometers) wide surrounding Nasty 1, which is a massive, rapidly aging object known as a Wolf-Rayet star.

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May 26 2015

Record-Breaking Energy Unleashed in Largest Atom Smasher


The world's largest atom smasher is really cranking now: Protons zipped around the giant underground ring at near light-speed and collided head on, releasing record-breaking energies.

The beauty of the fallout from these powerful particle smash-ups can be seen in images released yesterday (May 21) by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which oversees the 17-mile-long (27 kilometers) Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

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May 26 2015

The new shape of fusion


ITER, the international fusion reactor being built in France, will stand 10 stories tall, weigh three times as much as the Eiffel Tower, and cost its seven international partners $18 billion or more. The result of decades of planning, ITER will not produce fusion energy until 2027 at the earliest. And it will be decades before an ITER-like plant pumps electricity into the grid. Surely there is a quicker and cheaper route to fusion energy.

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May 26 2015

Amazing Drone Footage of Nubian Pyramids


In a melding of modern-day technology and 3,000-year-old artifacts, a team supported by National Geographic is getting some of the first glimpses into ancient pyramids, temples, and burial sites sprawled across the Sudanese desert.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7tAuPi_azU

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May 26 2015

Could Egypt's empty animal mummies reveal an ancient scam?


Tens of centuries ago, animals were increasingly seen as sacred representation of gods in ancient Egypt. Pilgrims would often pay for the mummification of an animal, in return for divine favor or revelation. And so a lucrative industry began (made up of animal keepers, embalmers, priests, and laborers building the cemeteries and catacombs) and, over time, up to 70 million animals were carefully preserved -- or so Ancient Egyptians thought.

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May 26 2015

2,200-year-old sarcophagus discovered during construction in western Turkey


A 2,200-year-old sarcophagus containing ancient bones, a gold crown and teardrop vases was discovered in the Gemlik district of Turkey’s northwestern province of Bursa during a routine construction excavation.

A private construction company excavating the foundation of a building in Gemlik came upon an ancient sarcophagus during the dig.

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May 25 2015

Written Communication May Be 40,000 Years Old


It’s common knowledge that the first systematic use of written symbols as a means of communication emerged in Sumer around 3,000 BCE, but now a Canadian researcher is suggesting that as far back as 40,000 years ago our ancestors communicated in writing. Genevieve von Petzinger, an anthropologist from the University of Victoria, studied hundreds of markings from 300 sites in addition to personally visiting and examining 52 caves where ancient humans had lived located in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France. She then collected these markings in a database and looked for repeated use of the same symbol as well as for patterns of use for the different symbols.

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May 25 2015

Watching 3D movies 'helps improve brain power'


British study suggests surgeons, boxers and tennis players might benefit from watching films in stereoscope before taking on challenging tasks

A minority of filmgoers complain of dizziness and headaches, and previous studies have found that viewing in stereoscope offers no measurable improvement in enjoyment. But a new British study suggests that you may just improve your brain power by watching movies in 3D.

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May 25 2015

Breastfeeding protects against environmental pollution


Living in a city with a high level of vehicle traffic or close to a steel works means living with two intense sources of environmental pollution. However, a study indicates that the harmful pollution particle matter and nitrogen dioxide disappears in breastfed babies during the first four months of life. According to the results of the research, breastfeeding plays a protective role in the presence of these two atmospheric pollutants.

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May 25 2015

Maybe someday, sunscreen you can take in a pill


Why don’t animals that spend most of their time naked and outdoors get sunburned? Fur, if they have it, would provide some shade. But what about toads, say, or fish that swim in shallow water? (Water absorbs some ultraviolet light, but a lot of sunburn-capable radiation travels at least a few feet beneath the surface.)

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May 25 2015

Cold weather is much deadlier than extreme heat, study says


Extreme heat waves like the one that killed more than 70,000 Europeans in 2003 may be the most visible examples of deadly weather, but cold days actually cause more deaths than hot ones, a new study says.

After examining more than 74 million deaths that occurred in 13 countries from 1985 to 2012, researchers calculated that 7.3% of them could be attributed to cold weather and 0.4% to hot weather.

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May 25 2015

Deciphering clues to prehistoric climate changes locked in cave deposits


When the conversation turns to the weather and the climate, most people's thoughts naturally drift upward toward the clouds, but Jessica Oster's sink down into the subterranean world of stalactites and stalagmites.

That is because the assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University is a member of a small group of earth scientists who are pioneering in the use of mineral cave deposits, collectively known as speleothems, as proxies for the prehistoric climate.

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May 25 2015

So you’re related to Charlemagne? You and every other living European…


The advent of cheap genetic sequencing has given birth to a burgeoning ancestry industry. But before you pay to spit in a tube, let me give you a few facts for free.

With the advent of cheap genetic sequencing, the deep, intimate history of everyone can be revealed. We carry the traces of our ancestors in our cells, and now, for the price of a secondhand copy of Burke’s Peerage, you can have your illustrious past unscrambled.

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May 25 2015

Britain still deeply divided because of Henry VIII reformation, says Cambridge prof


Britain will never be a united nation because rifts created during the reformation, in the time of Henry VIII, are still shaping culture and politics, a Cambridge academic has claimed.

Professor Robert Tombs said that the UK was still deeply divided into left and right, which emerged from the ‘anti-establishment’ breakaway protestant groups in the North and traditional Anglican and Catholic communities in the South.

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May 25 2015

Ring a bell? Dig could uncover Big Ben’s daddy


Such is the state of disrepair of the Palace of Westminster that experts say the famous bell tower that houses Big Ben is gradually leaning over. But as time runs out for the old bell, its once equally renowned ancestor, Great Tom, could emerge from the past this summer as archaeologists conduct the first excavation at parliament in a generation.

The original tower was built around 1288 during the reign of Edward I, a little further from the river than the current tower, which was built in 1859 and is officially called the Elizabeth Tower – though in the public imagination it is firmly identified with its 16-tonne bell.

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