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Showing posts from March 24, 2016

Stripped-down synthetic organism sheds light on nature of life

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday announced the creation of a synthetic organism stripped down to the bare essentials with the fewest genes needed to survive and multiply, a feat at the microscopic level that may provide big insights on the very nature of life. Genome research pioneer J. Craig Venter called the bacterial cell his research team designed and constructed the "most simple of all organisms." While the human genome possesses more than 20,000 genes, the new organism gets by with only 473.


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Genetic study tracks start of Zika's invasion of Americas back to 2013

The Zika virus currently sweeping through the Americas looks to have hitched a ride on a plane into Brazil in 2013 and begun its invasion of the continent from there, scientists said on Thursday. In the first genome analysis of the current Zika epidemic, which has been linked in Brazil to cases of birth defects known as microcephaly, researchers said the virus' introduction to the Americas almost three years ago coincided with a 50 percent rise in air passengers from Zika-affected areas. The strain of the virus circulating in the current outbreak is most closely related to one from French Polynesia, the scientists said, although it is also possible that Zika was introduced separately to the Americas and French Polynesia from South East Asia.


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World's Largest Aircraft Readies for Takeoff

The world's largest aircraft, some 65 feet (20 meters) longer than the world's biggest passenger airliner, is just about ready to leave its hangar near London and take to the skies.


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Elusive Marbled Cats Secretly Photographed in Borneo

A secret photo shoot deep in the forests of Malaysian Borneo is helping researchers determine just how many marbled cats — rare, tree-climbing felines — live in the region, according to a new study. To get a better idea of the cats' stomping grounds, the researchers placed camera traps in eight forests and two palm oil plantations in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, they said. "We show that marbled cats can still survive in logged forests," said study lead researcher Andrew Hearn, a doctoral candidate at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.


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Sunken Pirate Ship from Explorer Vasco da Gama's Fleet Discovered

Marine archaeologists think they've discovered a lost Portuguese ship from explorer Vasco da Gama's fleet off the coast of present-day Oman, more than 500 years after it sank in a deadly storm. A team led by David Mearns, of the U.K.-based Blue Water Recoveries, first located the shipwreck in 1998 using archives and historical documents as a guide. After recent underwater excavations and careful analysis of more than 2,800 artifacts, including cannonballs and rare coins, the researchers are now fairly certain they have found the nau Esmeralda, the doomed ship commanded by da Gama's uncle.


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Oslo trash incinerator in carbon capture trial

The world's first experiment to capture carbon dioxide from the fumes of burning rubbish is nearing completion in Oslo.     The trial at the Norwegian capital's main waste incinerator began in January in a groundbreaking bid to develop technology to enlist the world's trash in slowing global warming.     The test at the Klemetsrud incinerator, which burns household and industrial waste, is a step beyond most efforts to capture and bury greenhouse gases at coal-fired power plants or factories using fossil fuels.     So far, high costs have plagued technology for carbon capture and storage. Last December, almost 200 nations agreed a deal in Paris to fight climate change in a new spur for technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.     Johnny Stuen, technical director of the Klemetsrud waste-to-energy incinerator, said the plant already generates heat to warm buildings in the city.

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Mood lighting for stress-free chickens

By Matthew Stock A new energy efficient lighting system for poultry farms uses bulbs with a light spectrum specially adjusted for chicken retinas. According to John Matcham from Greengage Lighting Ltd., the chicken's superior eyesight isn't taken into account by traditional lighting that is better suited for human sight.

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Hidden Text in England's Oldest Printed Bible Revealed

Long-hidden annotations in a Henry VIII-era Bible reveal the messy, gradual process of the Protestant Reformation. The handwritten notes were just discovered in a Latin Bible published in 1535 by Henry VIII's printer. The version with the annotations is in the Lambeth Palace Library in London.


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