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Showing posts from November 11, 2015

New 'Making North America' Series Explores Continent's Rich History

The first part of the "Making North America" series has already aired, but the second installment will air tonight (Nov. 11) at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT (check local listings). The host of the series, Kirk Johnson, is a renowned paleontologist and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Throughout the series, Johnson flies, swims, hikes and rappels around the North American continent, speaking to experts and using (literally) earth-shattering special effects to guide viewers through North America’s billions of years of history. It turns out that the land isn’t, err, set in stone, and the North American continent has been through some pretty drastic changes.


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'Superduck' dinosaur provides insight into elaborate head crests

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a warm, lush environment near a meandering river 79.5 million years ago in Montana, a dinosaur nicknamed "Superduck" munched on leaves and kept a lookout for predators related to Tyrannosaurus rex that might threaten its herd. It was a member of a plant-eating group called duck-billed dinosaurs, known for beaks resembling a duck's bill, common during the latter part of the Cretaceous Period. Many duck-billed dinosaurs boasted head crests of various shapes and sizes.


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Bee-lieve it or not: people liked honey back in the Stone Age

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Murals from ancient Egypt's vibrant New Kingdom era depicting bees and honey amid scenes of everyday life some 4,400 years ago provide early evidence of people using of beehive products. Scientists said on Wednesday they have found evidence of beeswax in pottery made by Stone Age people from early farming cultures in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, including in cooking pots from a site in eastern Turkey dating to about 8,500 years ago. "The distinctive chemical fingerprint of beeswax was detected at multiple Neolithic sites across Europe, indicating just how widespread the association between humans and honeybees was in prehistoric times," organic geochemist Mélanie Roffet-Salque of the University of Bristol in Britain said.


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Honeybees Sweetened Life for Stone Age Humans

Stone Age people may have satisfied their sweet tooth with honey, new research finds. The chemical residues on pots that prove this are from beeswax, so researchers can't say for sure whether Neolithic people used beeswax alone or both beeswax and honey. "It seems that the first farmers in every single area of Europe were exploiting beeswax from the beginning of farming," said study researcher Mélanie Roffet-Salque, a postdoctoral researcher in chemistry at the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom.

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Closest Earth-size Alien Planet Found, May Be a Venus Twin

A newly discovered planet 39 light-years away is being called the closest Earth-size exoplanet ever discovered — and a potential "Venus twin" — providing the mouth-watering opportunity for a close-up look at the environment on a rocky alien world. One of the dire frustrations of studying planets around other stars (and, really, any astronomical object) is their distance from Earth, which makes it onerous or impossible to get many basic details about them. Exoplanets are doubly frustrating because any light they emit (light that would give hints about what's happening on the surface) is often overwhelmed by the light of the parent star.


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These Ancient Stars May Be the Oldest Ever Seen in the Milky Way

Astronomers have found what may be the oldest stars in the Milky Way. The stars, discovered in the galaxy's bulge, reveal that extraordinarily powerful explosions known as hypernovas might have dominated the Milky Way during its youth, researchers say. The oldest stars in the universe are poor in what astronomers call "metals" — elements heavier than helium.


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Self-Folding Minirobots Possible with Origami-Inspired Graphene

Origami-inspired graphene paper that can fold itself could be used to create anything from miniature robots to artificial muscles, according to a new study. Scientists from Donghua University in China have demonstrated that gently heating a sheet of graphene paper, which is extraordinarily strong (about 200 times stronger than steel by weight), could make it fold into a device that is able to walk forward and backward. The research could help scientists develop self-folding structures and devices for modern applications, including wirelessly controlled micro robots, artificial muscles and devices for tissue engineering, said Jiuke Mu, a Ph.D. student at Donghua University and one of the material’s inventors.


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Half-Billion-Year-Old Brains Preserved in Fool's Gold

A set of incredible fossils from southwest China reveals something amazing: 520 million-year-old brains, some preserved in fool's gold. Researchers led by Nicholas Strausfeld, a neuroscientist at the University of Arizona, first discovered fossilized brains this old in 2012, but only reported on one specimen. Now, Strausfeld and his colleagues have analyzed seven more fossils and discovered bits of brain in each.


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Get a Whiff of This: Man Hasn't Showered in 12 Years

David Whitlock, a chemical engineer in Boston, has not showered for 12 years. To boost the presence of odor-eating bacteria, Whitlock has designed a bacterial spray called AO+ Mist, which is now sold by the company AoBiome under the brand Mother Dirt. The company hopes this bacterial spritz could reduce the need for products such as soaps and deodorants and potentially even reduce or eliminate the need for showering for those so inclined.

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Getting HyQ the robot 'disaster ready'

By Jim Drury Robotics engineers are developing algorithms to make HyQ, a quadruped robot, into a useful tool in disaster missions. The HyQ quadruped robot was developed and built by Claudio Semini, of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, who completed it in 2010. A copy of the robot was built in 2012 for ETH Zurich Professor Jonas Buchli's laboratory, part funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Why Do Supermassive Black Holes Erupt?

Astronomers are dragging the inner workings of black holes out into the light. The powerful X-ray flares seen erupting from supermassive black holes are tied to the motion of these behemoths' surrounding "coronas," mysterious features that are sources of high-energy light, a new study suggests. Specifically, supermassive black holes likely flare when their coronas launch away from them, researchers said.


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Ancient Cosmic Crashes May Have Altered Earth's Composition

Mysteriously, Earth's chemical composition is drastically different from that of the rocks that most likely helped to form the planet. Now, scientists think they may have an answer to this long-standing puzzle: The constant pummeling that formed Earth may have altered its composition. Among these, previous research found that enstatite chondrites have a mix of isotopes that is remarkably similar to that of Earth, which suggests they might be the raw material from which Earth originated.


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