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Showing posts from December 15, 2015

Panda passion: Study reveals secret of fruitful captive breeding

Scientists studying captive breeding of the endangered bamboo-eating bears said on Tuesday pandas are far more likely to mate successfully and produce cubs when they show through a complex series of behaviors a preference for a potential mate. When giant pandas in captive breeding experiments displayed no such preference, despite being deemed genetically suitable as a pair, their chances of successfully mating dropped to zero. "Incorporating mate choice into conservation breeding programs could make a huge difference for the success of many endangered species breeding programs, increasing cost-effectiveness and overall success," said conservation biologist Meghan Martin-Wintle of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.


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Urine for some fertilizer

By Ben Gruber GAINESVILLE, FL (Reuters) - It's called the 'Swamp', a stadium that packs more than 90,000 fans when the University of Florida Gators host a home game. If Environmental Engineering Professor Treavor Boyer has his way, this field and all of the people attending the football games will be part of a massive science experiment in sustainability.      The experiment would involve re-purposing the abundant amounts of urine produced at the stadium which Boyer views as a resource that is currently going to waste. Urine is nutrient rich, containing high concentrations of nitrogen as well as phosphorous and potassium.        "What you'll see is that you can collect enough nitrogen over those seven home football games to meet the nutrient requirements for that field for the growing season," said Boyer.     His idea is to stop streaming urine to a waste water facility and collect the pee in giant vats at the stadium instead to then use to fertilize the fiel…

'Plucking' Light Particles from Laser Beams Could Advance Quantum Computing

A novel method for "plucking" individual particles of light out of a laser pulse could lead to major breakthroughs in quantum computing, researchers say. Using a combination of supercooled atoms and cutting-edge optical technology, physicists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel were able to extract a single photon from a beam of light. Individual photons are of great interest to physicists because they are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics rather than the rules of classical physics (which normally apply to light).


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Water Art: Phytoplankton Bloom Turns Ocean into a Masterpiece

It may look like a painting by Vincent van Gogh, but this mass of swirling colors is really a satellite image depicting a huge bloom of phytoplankton, or microscopic marine plant life, in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. NASA acquired the image on Sept. 23 using its Suomi NPP weather satellite. To create this artful picture, NASA combined data from the red, green and blue infrared bands of VIIRS with additional data about the levels of chlorophyll (green pigments found in algae and plants) present in the North Atlantic Ocean.


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Enormous Plesiosaur Once Swam Around Ancient Patagonia

Grapefruit-size vertebra and robust rib bones come into view in irregular chunks of sandstone as paleontologist Fernando Novas uses a hammer and chisel to chip away at what may be one of the largest and most complete skeletons of a long-necked marine reptile called a plesiosaur. The beast would've swum using enormous flippers in the waters, covering what is now Patagonia, some 65 million years ago, Novas and his colleagues have found. Paleontologists are still carefully removing the hard sandstone surrounding the plesiosaur's skeleton, but they expect the newfound marine reptile will be a previously unknown genus and species, said project leader Novas, a paleontologist at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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Lurking Beneath the 'Mona Lisa' May Be the Real One

A hidden portrait lying beneath Leonardo da Vinci's most famous painting may depict the real "Mona Lisa," at least if one man's theory is correct. Reflected light waves from the painting have revealed four different phases, or images, beneath the surface of "La Gioconda." The third of these images is a woman who looks very different from the one now known as "Mona Lisa." This, in fact, may be the real Lisa, the woman that da Vinci was commissioned to paint in 1503, said Pascal Cotte, the founder of Lumiere Technologies, who announced his findings on Tuesday (Dec. 9) at a news conference in Shanghai.


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Backyard Bonanza: Medieval Outhouses and Roman Roads Unearthed

Rubbish pits, storage areas, outhouses, wells and short walls to keep the neighbors at bay are a few of the things that archaeologists in England recently unearthed while digging beneath an old bus depot in the city of Leicester. Dating back to the 12th through 16th centuries, these artifacts were found in what was once an area of densely packed houses and shops, according to archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS). And beneath the garden walls (and the rubbish) the archaeologists found the remains of another, more ancient cityscape.


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Rocket with three-man crew blasts off to space station

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a three-man international crew, including Britain's first professional astronaut, Tim Peake, blasted off on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket carrying the Soyuz TMA-19M spaceship lifted off at 1703 p.m. local time (1103 GMT), beginning its six-hour journey to the International Space Station, and successfully reached its designated orbit about 9 minutes later. (Reporting by Shamil Zhumatov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov)


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