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Showing posts from January 21, 2016

Hiding in Plain Sight: 24 New Beetle Species Discovered in Australia

Most of the beetles were collected almost 30 years ago, but they remained unnamed until Alexander Riedel, a curator at the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe, and Rene Tänzler, a biologist at the Zoological State Collection in Munich, both in Germany, started cataloging them and stumbled across 24 new species that have now been added to the weevil genus Trigonopterus. All of the newly described weevils are restricted to small areas of tropical rainforests along the east coast of northern Queensland, Australia. The new beetle species are also easily overlooked because they live on fallen leaves and dead wood, feeding on leaf litter, bits of palm fronds and other rainforest plants, basically recycling plant material, the scientists added.


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NASA Sees Massive Winter Storm Moving East

A massive winter storm that is expected to bring snow and ice to the eastern United States in the next 48 hours dwarfs the central part of the country in a new satellite image. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-West satellite spotted this cloudy view of the large storm near the Gulf Coast today (Jan. 21) at 10 a.m. EST. The NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured another view of the looming winter storm yesterday (Jan. 20) at 2:30 p.m. EST, showing clouds and snow cover stretching from northern Texas into the Great Lakes states.


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Researchers find possible ninth planet beyond Neptune

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The solar system may host a ninth planet that is about 10 times bigger than Earth and orbiting far beyond Neptune, according to research published on Wednesday. Computer simulations show that the mystery planet, if it exists, would orbit between about 200 and 1,000 times farther from the sun than Earth, astronomers with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said. "It's a pretty substantial chunk of our solar system that's still out there to be found, which is pretty exciting,” said astronomer Mike Brown, whose discovery was published in this week’s Astronomical Journal.


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State of play of Virtual Reality

Valkyrie, a new action-packed space adventure developed by game company CCP, was designed to harness the latest in virtual reality technology. Tomorrow we want to change the dynamic around immersive, advanced, virtual reality," said JP Nauseef, the founder of Krush technologies, a company starting to develop virtual reality hardware.  Major advances in virtual reality are starting to take shape.

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New Seafloor Map Reveals Secrets of Ancient Continents' Shoving Match

Tectonic plates may have inched across the Earth’s surface to where they are now over the course of billions of years, but they left behind traces of this movement in bumps and gashes under the sea. Now, a new topographic map of the seafloor has helped researchers chronicle when the Indian-Eurasian continent formed as well as find a previously undiscovered microplate that broke off as a result of the event.


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Racing Pigeons Fly Home Faster in Polluted Air, Scientists Find

China currently has an air pollution problem so severe that smog is occasionally dense enough to be visible from space. Using publicly available data gathered from environmental and pigeon racing agencies, scientists analyzed pigeon performance in 415 races that took place on the North China Plain, where concentrations of air pollution are higher than anywhere else in the country, the scientists reported. By comparing the pigeons' racing times to records of pollution levels on race days, the researchers hoped to learn whether air pollution might affect how well the pigeons performed during the races, the scientists said.

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Even Centenarians Are Living Longer

In recent years, the death rate among American centenarians — people who have lived to age 100 or older — has decreased, dropping 14 percent for women and 20 percent for men from 2008 to 2014, according to the report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In other words, "the risk of dying for centenarians decreased" over this period, study author Dr. Jiaquan Xu, of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, told Live Science. In 2000, the top five causes of death for centenarians were heart disease, stroke, influenza and pneumonia (the two conditions are grouped together), cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

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Eating Healthy Fats May Reduce Deaths from Heart Disease

Encouraging people to eat healthy fats such as those found in olive oil or fish could help prevent more than a million deaths from heart disease worldwide each year, according to a new study. In fact, the number of deaths from heart disease due to insufficient intake of healthy fats is almost three times' greater than the number of deaths due to excessive intake of saturated fats, according to the researchers. "Policies for decades have focused on saturated fats as the priority for preventing heart disease, but we found that in most countries, a too-little intake of healthy fats was the big problem, bigger than saturated fat," said study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

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Low-Fiber Diet May Change Gut Microbes for Generations

Diets that are low in fiber may cause irreversible changes to populations of gut bacteria, and those changes may be passed on over generations, new research suggests. What's more, the depleted microbial community, called the microbiome, was passed on from parent to offspring, and worsened over time: After four generations of mice had eaten a low-fiber diet, most of the bacteria species normally found in the animals' gut microbiome were completely missing, the researchers found. The study, which was published Wednesday (Jan. 13) in the journal Nature, may have implications for humans, said study lead author Erica Sonnenburg, a microbiome researcher at Stanford University in California.

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Early Egyptian Queen Revealed in 5,000-Year-Old Hieroglyphs

About 60 drawings and hieroglyphic inscriptions, dating back around 5,000 years, have been discovered at a site called Wadi Ameyra in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. Carved in stone, they were created by mining expeditions sent out by early Egyptian pharaohs, archaeologists say. For instance, one inscription the researchers found tells of a queen named Neith-Hotep who ruled Egypt 5,000 years ago as regent to a young pharaoh named Djer.


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From sawdust to petrol

By Jim Drury As world governments mull over global emission targets agreed at last December's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), attention is turning to which new technologies can help them achieve this. Researchers at the University of Leuven say they have part of the answer, having devised a way to convert sawdust into valuable chemicals and the building blocks for gasoline. By developing a unique chemical process in their laboratory at the Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, outside Brussels, they can convert the lignin in sawdust into aromatic chemicals and the cellulose into hydrocarbon chains.

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