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Showing posts from November 20, 2015

More than half of Amazon tree species seen at risk of extinction

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - South America's vast Amazon region harbors one of the world's most diverse collection of tree species, but more than half may be at risk for extinction due to ongoing deforestation to clear land for farming, ranching and other purposes, scientists say. Researchers said on Friday that if recent trends continued, between 36 and 57 percent of the estimated 15,000 Amazonian tree species likely would qualify as threatened with extinction under criteria used by the group that makes such determinations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The researchers analyzed Amazonian forest surveys and data on current and projected deforestation areas.


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Giant Bling: World's Second-Largest Diamond Unearthed

A mining company operating in Botswana recently announced that it has "recovered" the second-largest diamond in the world. At 1,111 carats, the rock weighs nearly half a pound (227 grams) and measures 2.6 by 2.2 by 1.6 inches (65 by 56 by 40 millimeters). The gem is the largest of its kind to ever be found in Botswana and the largest diamond to be discovered anywhere in the world in more than 100 years, according to officials from the Lucara Diamond Corp., which discovered the massive gemstone.


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Watch for the Mischievous 'Demon Star' This Week

Perseus — will pass directly overhead. Its prominent variable star, Algol — known as "the Demon" — will be vividly visible as well. In case you're not familiar with the story — which, in some ways, seems almost like a soap opera — Perseus' mission was to behead the Gorgon Medusa, a hideous creature with rather unusual "naturally curly" hair composed of poisonous snakes.


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Astronauts in Space Honor Paris Attack Victims (Video)

The crew of the International Space Station and flight controllers worldwide held a moment of silence this week for the victims of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly shared some remarks in a new video. The space station personnel joined a stunned and grieving world in the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people and injured 352. The space station's six-man crew took part in the tribute on Monday (Nov. 16), NASA officials said.


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Jet-Propelled 3D-Printed Drone Claims Speed Record

A new jet-powered drone might be the most complex flying machine ever built using 3D printing. The drone, which made its debut at the Dubai Airshow earlier this month, looks nothing like your average 3D-printed toy plane. It has a 9-foot-long (3 meters) wingspan and an aerodynamic design that gives it a futuristic appearance.


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Pick Up the Pace: Walking Speed Linked with Heart Health in Older Adults

For older adults, walking a little faster, or for a few extra blocks, may increase the heart-healthy benefits of your stroll, a new study finds. In the study, the researchers found that older adults who walked faster than 3 miles per hour had a 50 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who walked at a pace slower than 2 miles per hour. In addition, those who walked an average of seven blocks daily had a 47 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who walked five or fewer blocks each week, according to the study, published today (Nov. 19) in the journal Circulation.

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Researchers Grow Vocal Cord Tissue That Can 'Talk'

Researchers have grown vocal cord tissue in the lab, and it works — the tissue was able to produce sound when it was transplanted into intact voice boxes from animals, according to a new study. "This is years away from trial just because of reality of the regulatory requirements," said study author Nathan Welham, a speech-language pathologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Vocal cords consist of two flexible bands of muscle that are lined with a specialized tissue, called mucosa, which vibrates as air moves over the cords, generating the voice.

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A Magic Moment: The Milky Way from Yellowstone National Park (Photo)

Before twilight and shortly after the moon set in Yellowstone National Park, astrophotographer A. Garrett Evans found the perfect moment to capture this stunning image. Evans took the image from near the edge of the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone on June 27 and recently shared it with Space.com.


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Kids Quiz One-Year Astronaut on Life in Space

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station fielded rapid-fire questions from curious middle schoolers this morning (Nov. 19), delving into life on the orbiting lab and the everyday strangeness that invites. Sixty-five students from East Side Middle School in New York City, chosen for its science, technology, engineering and math focus, got the chance to talk with NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren aboard the station as part of an event hosted in the Time-Life building by the publication Time for Kids. "This is [Time for Kids'] 20th anniversary, so we think this is a fantastic way to celebrate 20 years of bringing the world to kids — and now, bringing 'outside the world' to kids," Nellie Gonzalez Cutler, Time for Kids' editor in chief, told Space.com.


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Weird Sea Mollusk Sports Hundreds of Eyes Made of Armor

Acanthopleura granulata is a chiton, a pill bug of the sea. Researchers have long known that chitons have soft tissue embedded in their flexible suits of armor, and that some of this soft tissue is sensitive to light. Even weirder, these eyes are made of the same calcium-carbonate mineral as the chiton shell.


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No Fair! Children's Sense of Equality Is Shaped by Culture

Across cultures, children develop a dislike of receiving less than others by age 10, but it isn't until later that they begin to feel discomfort when others get the short end of the deal, the new research found. In the study of kids ages 4 to 15 from seven countries, children in just three countries showed any sign of caring about fairness for other kids. "A negative reaction to getting less than others may be a human universal," said study co-author Katherine McAuliffe, a psychologist at Yale University.


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'Flying' Tadpoles & Fleeing Fish Win Prestigious Photo Contest

What does the world look like to a tadpole? The photo he took came out swimmingly, earning him first place in a photography competition hosted by the Royal Society, London. The man behind the pollywog photo is Bert Willaert, a biologist and environmental advisor in Belgium who has snapped thousands of photos of the natural world.


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