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Showing posts from October 15, 2015

Repaired SpaceX rocket to fly by early December, company says

(In this version of the Oct. 13 story, first sentence of third paragraph, corrects to 'upper-stage liquid oxygen tank' from 'upper-stage engine'. In second sentence of third paragraph, corrects to 'causing the tank' instead of 'causing the engine'.) JERUSALEM (Reuters)- Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, expects to return a repaired and upgraded Falcon 9 rocket to flight around the start of December, a company vice president said, less than six months after one exploded shortly after liftoff. The 208-foot-tall (63-meter) rocket carrying cargo for the International Space Station exploded less than three minutes after liftoff from Florida on June 28.


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What a nightmare: sleep no more plentiful in primitive cultures

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Maybe we cannot blame late-night TV, endless Internet surfing, midnight snacks, good books, bothersome work deadlines and other distractions of modern life for encroaching on our sleep. Research unveiled on Thursday showed that people in isolated and technologically primitive African and South American cultures get no more slumber than the rest of us. Scientists tracked 94 adults from the Tsimane people of Bolivia, Hadza people of Tanzania and San people of Namibia for a combined 1,165 days in the first study on the sleep patterns of people in primitive foraging and hunting cultures.


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Wet (But Warm) Winter: Strong El Niño to Usher in Lots of Rain

It's official: El Niño is back. The strong subtropical weather pattern boosts the odds for rainfall and warm temperatures across the Southern United States and the Eastern Seaboard — including drought-stricken regions such as California and the Southwest. But even if California is inundated with rain, the state's water woes probably won't be eliminated in one season, the experts said.


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Pluto Is Beautiful, Complex and Thoroughly Puzzling for Scientists

The first-ever flyby of Pluto may have raised more questions than it answered. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft discovered a staggering diversity of terrain during its close approach on July 14, from towering water-ice mountains to a vast, crater-free plain largely divided into mysterious "cells" dozens of kilometers wide. New Horizons' observations also revealed that Charon, the dwarf planet's largest moon, sports a canyon system at least 650 miles (1,050 km) long and a dark polar cap that researchers informally named after Mordor, the realm of the evil wizard Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.


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Comet's Close Encounter with Mars Dumped Tons of Dust on Red Planet

Comet Siding Spring's close shave by Mars last year provided a rare glimpse into how Oort Cloud comets behave, according to new research. Comet Siding Spring also left behind a substantial quantity of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water that couldn't be detected because Mars' atmosphere is also made up of those elements. Siding Spring's journey from the Oort Cloud — a collection of comets beyond the orbit of Neptune that stretches for hundreds of astronomical units — meant it was pristine when it showed up beside Mars.


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Planet Hunter Geoff Marcy Resigns Following Sexual Harassment Investigation

Geoff Marcy, a leader in the field of exoplanet research, has resigned from his position as a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, following an investigation that found he violated the school's sexual harassment policies. A statement from Nicholas B. Dirks, the university's chancellor, and Claude Steele, its executive vice chancellor and provost obtained by Space.com, said Marcy resigned this morning (Oct. 14). The findings of the school investigation were first made public on Friday (Oct. 9) in a story by BuzzFeed News.


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Stories Leap Into 3D with 'Augmented Reality' Coloring Books

Have you ever wished that the characters in your coloring book could come alive — leap from the page and dance around, perhaps? Developed by the tech nerds over at Disney Research (a network of laboratories affiliated with the Walt Disney Company), the new coloring book app turns your doodles into virtual, 3D figures that move around on screen like cartoon characters. Here's how it works: You color in one of the characters inside a regular (but app-compatible) coloring book and launch the Disney coloring app on your phone or tablet.


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Nearly 30 Years After Chernobyl Disaster, Wildlife Returns to the Area

Almost 30 years after a horrific accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant released massive amounts of radiation and became one of the world's worst nuclear catastrophes, the long-abandoned site has some new inhabitants: New research finds that many native wildlife species are once again finding refuge in the human-free Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine. Scientists found that the numbers of moose, roe deer, red deer and wild boar living in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — a roughly 1,000-square-mile (2,600 square kilometers) designated area of contamination around the disaster site — are similar to the animals' population numbers in nearby uncontaminated nature reserves. In fact, they noted that wolf census data in the area has a population seven times greater than populations in nearby reserves.


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Humans Exited Africa, and Trekked to China, Fossils Reveal

Teeth from a cave in China suggest that modern humans lived in Asia much earlier than previously thought, and tens of thousands of years before they reached Europe, researchers say. This discovery yields new information about the dispersal of modern humans from Africa to the rest of the world, and could shed light on how modern humans and Neanderthals interacted, the scientists added. Modern humans first originated about 200,000 years ago in Africa.


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Upcoming El Niño May Be As Wild As 1997 Event

El Niño is expected to be more beast than "little boy" this year — a forecast about the weather pattern that becomes clear in newly released maps of the waters around the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The two maps show the sea-surface heights in the Pacific in October 1997 and 2015, revealing that conditions this year are looking a lot like they did during the strong El Niño event of 1997 to 1998. "Whether El Niño gets slightly stronger or a little weaker is not statistically significant now.


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The Lure of Terrible Lizards: Why We Love Godzilla

Godzilla, the fictional, Tokyo-destroying sea monster, is actually a dinosaur dreamed up by the film's producer, Tomoyuki Tanaka, who let his mind wander during a flight back to Japan across the Pacific Ocean. Now, 30 movies later, people still flock to see the radioactive giant in theaters — likely because Godzilla reminds them of their childhood love of dinosaurs, said William Tsutsui, a professor of history and president of Hendrix College in Arkansas, and author of "Godzilla On My Mind: 50 Years of the King of Monsters" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2004). Tsutsui spoke about Godzilla's historical roots to a crowded room here at the 75rd annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference Tuesday (Oct. 13).


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Inky Coalsack Nebula Smudges Milky Way in Striking New Views

The enormous, inky smudges of the Coalsack nebula blot out a patch of the brilliant Milky Way in a new image from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) — but someday, that murky realm will burst into light. You can see a video tour of the Coalsack nebula here, incorporating the new image. The view comes from the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter (7.2 feet) telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile.


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Amazing Jupiter Video Shows Slowing Shrinkage of the Great Red Spot

Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot may be shrinking, but it's not going down without a fight. Amazing new maps of the Jupiter by the Hubble Space Telescope reveal that the Great Red Spot, a massive storm about twice the diameter of Earth, is slowing the speed at which it shrinks. The Jupiter maps, first in series of annual portraits of the outer planets, also reveal rare wave structures that scientists haven't seen for nearly 40 years.


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Bronze Age cemetery unearthed in southwestern Poland

DUNINO, Poland - Excavations for a motorway in southwestern Poland led to an unusual and unexpected discovery – the remains of a huge, almost perfectly preserved Bronze Age cemetery. Archaeologists thought they might find remains from the Battle of Kaczawa in 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars but not an ancient burial site. "It was a great surprise to all of us to discover a very rich, 3,000-year-old graveyard of people of the Lusatian culture," said archaeologist Izabela Kadlucka. ...

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