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Multi-national crew reaches space station

ISS crew Shkaplerov matches palm with his daughter Kira from a bus window before the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket at the Baikonur cosmodromeBy Irene Klotz (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan on Sunday to deliver three new crew members to the International Space Station, including Italy's first female astronaut. A Soyuz capsule carrying incoming station commander Terry Virts from U.S. space agency NASA, Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov from the Russian Federal Space Agency and first-time flier Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency lifted off at 2101 GMT (4.01 p.m. EST) Sunday. ...


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Physicists solve mystery of why cats rule, dogs drool

File picture shows a Greyhound dog drinking water after a race in Santiago city(Reuters) - Popular web videos showing that "cats rule and dogs drool" have new scientific evidence to support that felinophilic sentiment, at least when it comes to drinking. While cats expertly manipulate water to quench thirst neatly, dogs smash, slosh, spill, and splash their way, according to research unveiled on Monday. The latest findings, which focus on dogs and were presented at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Physical Society, build on an earlier discovery of how cats drink. ...


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One for every leg: scientists map centipede genome

LONDON (Reuters) - An international team of more than 100 researchers has mapped the genome of the centipede and found that, while it easily outpaces humans on number of legs, it falls short when it comes to genes.     Sequencing the genome of Strigamia maritima, a northern European centipede, the 106-strong team found it has around 15,000 genes - some 7,000 fewer than a human. ...

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Cold hard facts: Underwater robot measures Antarctic sea ice

BAS handout photo shows the AUV SeaBed robot being deployed from British Antactic Survey's RRS James Clark RossBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Measuring the thickness of Antarctic sea ice, an important gauge of environmental conditions in this remote polar region in a time of global climate change, has proven to be a tricky task. But an underwater robot is providing a nice solution. Satellite measurements can be skewed by surface snow, and some ice floes are simply too difficult to reach by ship, even icebreakers, to make direct measurements by drilling into them. ...


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Deregulation at heart of Japan's new robotics revolution

Japan's robot venture company Cyberdyne's Lower Limb Model HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) for welfare use is seen next to a laptop showing HAL monitor, which indicates signals of users including the center point of the balance, shift of the center point of thBy Sophie Knight and Kaori Kaneko TOKYO (Reuters) - Neurosurgeon Tetsuya Goto had just begun testing a robot to perform brain surgery when he discovered Japan was moving to tighten regulations that would shut down his seven-year project.     Over the next dozen years he watched in frustration as the da Vinci, a rival endoscopic robot that U.S. regulators had already approved, became a commercial success while his and other Japanese prototypes languished in laboratories. ...


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How Blu-ray Discs Can Improve Solar Panels

Blu-ray discs could help make the solar cells used in solar panels more efficient, researchers say. Solar cells rely on materials that convert photons of light into electricity. Prior research had revealed that if microscopic structures that are only nanometers (billionths of a meter) high are placed on the surface of solar cells, they can scatter light in ways that increase the cells' efficiency. The best patterns of nanostructures to place on solar cells are quasi-random ones — patterns that are neither too orderly nor too random.

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How Vultures Can Eat Rotting Flesh Without Getting Sick

Vultures' faces and large intestines are covered with bacteria that is toxic to most other creatures, but these birds of prey have evolved a strong gut that helps them not get sick from feasting on rotting flesh, according to a new study. In the first analysis of bacteria living on vultures, the study's researchers found that these scavengers are laden with flesh-degrading Fusobacteria and poisonous Clostridia. Their diet may be filled with toxic bacteria and putrid feces, but vultures are apparently immune to these deadly microbes, the researchers said. "Our results show there has been strong adaptation in vultures when it comes to dealing with the toxic bacteria they digest," Michael Roggenbuck, a researcher of microbiology at the University of Copenhagen, said in a statement.

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Is Farmed Salmon Good for You?

Eating salmon and other oily fish has been recommended as a way of boosting omega-3 fatty acids, and potentially lowering the risk of heart disease. In the wild, salmon eat a variety of small fish, but increasing demands for farmed salmon has meant exploiting those smaller fish populations. As a more sustainable solution, some farmed salmon are now being fed partly on vegetable oil. "Some of the marine ingredients in salmon's diet are replaced with vegetable oil, and that will have some effects when it comes to nutritional composition of the salmon at the end,"said Trond Brattelid, a researcher at Norway's National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research.

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How 3D Printing Could Aid Space Exploration

How 3D Printing Could Aid Space ExplorationA new era in human spaceflight and exploration has begun, advocates of 3D printing say. The 3D printer aboard the International Space Station produced its first part Monday (Nov. 24), manufacturing a piece of itself called an extruder plate. The humble part is just the first of many objects that will be created off Earth over the coming years, helping humanity explore far beyond its home planet and even establish outposts on distant worlds, some experts say. "For the space station even, it will decrease risk, decrease cost and increase efficiency," Niki Werkheiser, 3D Print project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said of 3D printing late last year.


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Space Station's 3D Printer Makes 1st Part

Space Station's 3D Printer Makes 1st PartThe International Space Station's 3D printer has produced its first part, ushering in what proponents hope will be a new age of off-Earth manufacturing.


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One for every leg: scientists map centipede genome

"Bug Chef" David Gordon holds a Vietnamese centipede during his 4th annual "Bug-A-Thon" event at Ripley's Believe It or Not museum in HollywoodLONDON (Reuters) - An international team of more than 100 researchers has mapped the genome of the centipede and found that, while it easily outpaces humans on number of legs, it falls short when it comes to genes. Sequencing the genome of Strigamia maritima, a northern European centipede, the 106-strong team found it has around 15,000 genes - some 7,000 fewer than a human. ...


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'Interstellar' Science: Is Wormhole Travel Possible?

'Interstellar' Science: Is Wormhole Travel Possible?Wormholes are theoretical tunnels through the fabric of space-time that could potentially allow rapid travel between widely separated points — from one galaxy to another, for example, as depicted in Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar," which opened in theaters around the world earlier this month. The novel came out in 1985, while the movie (which also stars Matthew McConaughey, apparently a wormhole connoisseur) was released in 1997.


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Cosmic Case of Missing Stars Baffles Scientists

Cosmic Case of Missing Stars Baffles ScientistsA massive population of stars is missing, and scientists are stumped as to where it could be. New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope challenge a previous theory for the apparent disappearance of a massive number of stars. Because some star clusters around our Milky Way galaxy have fewer stars than observations suggest they should, astronomers suspected many of these stars were ejected from their clusters to ultimately find new homes in the Milky Way. "If these kicked-out stars were there, we would see them — but we don't!" Frank Grundahl of Aarhus University in Denmark, a co-author on the paper, said in a statement. The finding draws into question whether the missing stars were ever present at all, in globular clusters around Fornax or the Milky Way.


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Nobel Medal for DNA discovery could fetch $3.5 million at auction

By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Nobel Prize gold medal awarded to American scientist Dr. James Watson, a co-discoverer of DNA, is expected to sell for up to $3.5 million at auction next month in New York, Christie's said on Monday. Watson, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, unraveled the double-helix structure and function of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in England in 1953 in a discovery that heralded the modern era of biology. The medal, the first to be offered by a living recipient, will go under the hammer on Dec. 4, with a pre-sale estimate of $2.5 million to $3. ...

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Small Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global Warming

Small Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global WarmingSmall volcanic eruptions account for part of the global warming slowdown since 2000, a new study suggests. Until now, the climate impacts of small volcanic blasts were overlooked because their planet-cooling particles cluster below the reach of satellites, scientists reported Oct. 31 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The stratosphere is the second layer of Earth's atmosphere, above the one in which humans live (the troposphere). Closer to the polar regions, the boundary drops to about 6 miles (10 km), said lead study author David Ridley, an atmospheric scientist at MIT.


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Obama plugs science, math education at ceremony

President Barack Obama holds up a compact flash memory card as an example of technology innovations during his remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, before awarding the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation. The awards are the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that 19 scientists, researchers and innovators who received the country's highest honor for their life-changing work embody the spirit of the nation and its "sense that we push against limits and that we're not afraid to ask questions."


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Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum Physics

Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum PhysicsThe idea that an infinite number of parallel worlds could exist alongside our own is hard to wrap the mind around, but a version of this so-called Many Worlds theory could provide an answer to the controversial idea of quantum mechanics and its many different interpretations. Bill Poirier, a professor of physics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, proposed a theory that not only assumes parallel worlds exist, but also says their interaction can explain all the quantum mechanics "weirdness" in the observable universe. Poirier first published the idea four years ago, but other physicists have recently started building on the idea and have demonstrated that it is mathematically possible. Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that describes the rules that govern the universe on the microscopic scale.


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CERN scientists discover 2 new subatomic particles

GENEVA (AP) — Scientists at the world's largest smasher said Wednesday they have discovered two new subatomic particles never seen before that could widen our understanding of the universe.

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Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)

Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)With the goal of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, nonprofit SpaceIL is competing for the Google Lunar XPrize: a modern race to the moon. First, instead of developing a rover to drive 500 m like most other teams, SpaceIL engineers are pursuing a "hop" — using the spacecraft's propulsion system first to land, and second to take off again and land 500 m away. Second, we are using the mission not only to stimulate technological advancement, but also to investigate the lunar magnetic field: To that aim, SpaceIL will be carrying a scientific experiment that will advance humanity's shared understanding of the moon. Although magnetized rocks were discovered decades ago, and astronauts returned some samples to Earth for research, the origin of the magnetic field presents an enigma — and an opportunity.


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NASA Pluto Probe to Wake From Hibernation Next Month

NASA Pluto Probe to Wake From Hibernation Next MonthNASA's New Horizons probe is about to wake up from a long slumber and get ready for its highly anticipated Pluto flyby next summer. New Horizons is scheduled to emerge from a 99-day hibernation on Dec. 6, then gear up for a six-month Pluto encounter that peaks with the first-ever close flyby of the mysterious dwarf planet on July 14, 2015. “New Horizons is healthy and cruising quietly through deep space, nearly 3 billion miles [4.8 billion kilometers] from home, but its rest is nearly over," Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, said in a statement. New Horizons launched in January 2006.


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Scientists 'confident' comet lander will wake up

BERLIN (AP) — A burst of sunshine in the spring could be just the wakeup call for Europe's comet lander.

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Big Bang's Echo May Reveal Skeleton of the Universe

Big Bang's Echo May Reveal Skeleton of the UniverseScientists may soon get a look at the universe's skeleton by taking a close look at light left over from the Big Bang, which can be used to reveal the presence of matter like stars, galaxies, black holes and even larger structures in the otherwise empty universe. In a similar way, scientists with the international POLARBEAR collaboration want to use a diffuse light that fills every corner of the cosmos to indicate where there is matter and where there is none. POLARBEAR studies the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the surviving light from the infant universe that is normally seen a kind of baby picture of the cosmos. "We're using the light that we've usually used to measure the seeds of the structure of the universe, to measure the whole tree," said Adrian Lee, a professor of physics at the University of California Berkeley, and a lead scientist with POLARBEAR.


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Famed Physicist Ernest Rutherford Helped Pioneer Sonar in Secret

Famed Physicist Ernest Rutherford Helped Pioneer Sonar in SecretErnest Rutherford is best-known for splitting the atom, but that's not his only claim to fame. The British physicist also helped pave the way for sonar technology. Rutherford produced a secret report during World War I that would form the basis for acoustic technology to detect German U-boats, which were a menace to the British Navy and merchant vessels. Now known as the father of nuclear physics, Rutherford became the first person to split an atom in 1917 in a reaction between nitrogen and alpha particles.


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Comet scientists take break after 4 straight days

This is a combination photo of two images released by the European Space Agency, ESA, Sunday Nov. 16, 2014. ESA says it provides strong indication that Philae touched down for the first time almost precisely where intended. The photo on the left was taken about 3 min 34 sec before touchdown, the photo on the right 1 min 26 sec after by the navigation camera (NAVCAM) on board Rosetta as the orbiter flew over the (intended) Philae landing site on Nov. 12. The touchdown is seen as a dark area in the lower center of the right image which is considered as strong indication that the lander touched down at this spot (possibly raising dust from the impact). They were taken from a distance of about 15 km from the surface, Since landing Wednesday on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko some 311 million miles (500 million kilometers) away, the lander has performed a series of scientific tests. (AP Photo/ESA Rosetta/NAVCAM)BERLIN (AP) — The European Space Agency says that its scientists are taking a bit of a break after working for four days around the clock since the pioneering lander Philae touched down on a comet.


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Alien Life Could Thrive on 'Supercritical' CO2 Instead of Water

Alien Life Could Thrive on 'Supercritical' CO2 Instead of WaterAlien life might flourish on an exotic kind of carbon dioxide, researchers say. This "supercritical" carbon dioxide, which has features of both liquids and gases, could be key to extraterrestrial organisms much as water is to biology on Earth. Most familiar as a greenhouse gas that traps heat, helping warm the planet, carbon dioxide is exhaled by animals and used by plants in photosynthesis. While it can exist as a solid, liquid and gas, past a critical point of combined temperature and pressure, carbon dioxide can enter a "supercritical" state.


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Space scientist apologizes for shirt called sexist

In this image issued from ESA, showing British physicist Matt Taylor Thursday Nov. 13, 2014, sporting a garish bowling shirt featuring a collage of pin-up girls in various states of undress, during an interview at the satellite control centre of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Darmstadt, Germany, on Thursday Nov. 13, 2014. On Friday Nov 14, Taylor offered an unsolicited apology about his shirt "I made a big mistake and I offended many people," he said. "And I'm very sorry about this." (AP Photo/ESA) TV OUT - NO SALESBERLIN (AP) — British physicist Matt Taylor brimmed with excitement as the European Space Agency's Philae lander successfully separated from the Rosetta spacecraft, showing off a colorful tattoo on his thigh of both, while proclaiming "we're making history."


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'Nature's Fury': NYC Exhibit Explores Science of Natural Disasters

'Nature's Fury': NYC Exhibit Explores Science of Natural DisastersFrom the eruption that buried Pompeii in A.D. 79 to the superstorm that shut down New York City in 2012, natural disasters are an unavoidable part of life on Earth. A new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) explores the causes and aftermath of the mighty forces that shape the planet, from earthquakes to volcanoes to hurricanes. The interactive exhibit lets visitors build their own virtual volcano, create and measure tiny earthquakes, and see what the eye of a tornado looks like. "Nature's Fury: The Science Behind Natural Disasters" will be open to the public from Nov. 15 to Aug. 9, 2015.


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Professor sues Caltech over her disclosures to FBI

Sandra Troian, left, with her attorney Dan Stormer, talks during a news conference in Pasadena, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. Troian a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, sued the school Thursday, claiming she faced retaliation for telling the FBI that she suspected illegal activities at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Troian alleges that Caltech officials violated the school's own whistle blower policy by conducting a campaign of retaliation to "drive her out of Caltech and ruin her career" after she reported possible violations of federal export laws at JPL, which is managed by Caltech. (AP Photo/Christopher Weber)PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A physics professor at the California Institute of Technology sued the school Thursday, claiming she faced a "merciless campaign" of retaliation for telling the FBI that she suspected illegal activities at the university-managed NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


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Global Warming Will Bring More US Lightning Strikes

A 50 percent increase in the number of lightning strikes within the United States can be expected by 2100 if temperatures continue to rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, a new study claims. Romps and his colleagues discovered a new combination of two factors that they say predicts 77 percent of the geographic and time patterns seen in U.S.

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Scientists: US-China pact won't slow warming much

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping drink a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Obama is on a state visit after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The United States and China pledged Wednesday to take ambitious action to limit greenhouse gases, aiming to inject fresh momentum into the global fight against climate change ahead of high-stakes climate negotiations next year. (AP Photo/Greg Baker, Pool)WASHINGTON (AP) — Don't expect the landmark U.S.-China climate change agreement to nudge the world's rising thermostat downward much on its own, scientists say.


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World's Oldest Living People Have Their Genomes Sequenced

World's Oldest Living People Have Their Genomes SequencedMany of these so-called "supercentenarians" were physically and cognitively fit into their old age — one participant practiced as a doctor until age 103, and another drove a car until age 107. The ultimate goal of the research is to figure out how supercentenarians are able to "slow down the aging clock," said study co-author Stuart Kim, a professor of developmental biology at Stanford University. None of the supercentenarians in the study had heart disease, stroke or diabetes — diseases that are  very common in old age — and just one participant had been diagnosed with cancer. "The best way forward is for people to pool their data so we can compare all the supercentenarians," Kim said.


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Scientists scour the genomes of people who live past 110

File photo of Talley sits at the head table with her friend during a celebration of her 115th birthday at the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in InksterBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - How do some people live past 110 years old? Is it superior genes, clean living, good luck or some combination of those? Scientists studying these "supercentenarians" said on Wednesday they sequenced the genomes of 17 people ages 110 to 116 to try to determine whether they possess genetic traits that may account for their membership in this exclusive club that worldwide includes only about 75 individuals, nearly all women. ...


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L'Aquila Earthquake Scientists Win Manslaughter Appeal

L'Aquila Earthquake Scientists Win Manslaughter AppealThe Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter for failing to sufficiently warn the public before the deadly 2009 L'Aquila earthquake won an appeal of their conviction Monday (Nov. 10). An appeals court in L'Aquila overturned the 2012 convictions and completely cleared the six scientists, according to the Associated Press. The men were members of an official commission convened to evaluate the threat from tremors that had rocked L'Aquila for months before a magnitude-6.3 quake killed 309 people on April 6, 2009. Prosecutors said reassuring statements from the official, Bernardo De Bernardinis, convinced L'Aquila residents to sleep indoors the night of the earthquake, which increased the number of people who died in collapsed buildings.


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Scientists find rare burial site of Ice Age infant in Alaska

Handout of University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) professors Potter and Reuther excavate the burial pit at the Upward Sun River site in central AlaskaBy Daniel Wallis (Reuters) - Archaeologists working in Alaska's remote interior have discovered the burial site of an Ice Age infant and a late-term fetus believed to be the youngest remains found in the Americas dating from that period. The burials, found underneath the cremated remains of an Ice Age toddler, date to about 11,500 years ago and provide new insights into mortuary practices of the people who lived in the area of the Upward Sun River site at the time. ...


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GMO battles over 'settled' science spur new study of crops

Employees stock shelves near a sign supporting non genetically modified organisms (GMO) at the Central Co-op in Seattle, WashingtonBy Carey Gillam (Reuters) - Monsanto Co, the world's largest seed company, and its brethren of global biotech crop developers are spreading the word that as far as the safety of their genetically modified grain goes, the science is solidly on their side. The message of "settled" science has become the rallying cry for defenders of the crops and food commonly referred to as GMOs as they push back against consumers, environmentalists, lawmakers and others who want the crops labeled, restricted or banned. ...


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Will Purr for Treats: How Cats Became Domesticated

A new study has revealed the genetic changes that make kitties snuggle up with humans and purr for treats. Many of the changes have altered the cat's motivation to seek rewards and have changed their fear of new situations, said study co-author Wesley Warren, a geneticist at the Genome Institute at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The team also discovered the genetic changes that make cats keen nighttime hunters and why their noses aren't as sensitive as their canine cousins'. Cats and humans go way back: Some studies suggest cats were first domesticated about 9,000 years ago in the Near East, while others trace cat domestication back to China around 5,000 years ago.

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The Science of 'Interstellar': Black Holes, Wormholes and Space Travel

The Science of 'Interstellar': Black Holes, Wormholes and Space TravelThe sci-fi epic "Interstellar" is just a movie, but it throws a lot of science on the screen for space geeks to sink their teeth into. "Interstellar," which opened in theaters across the United States on Friday (Nov. 7), delves into black holes and wormholes, and it touches down on more than one alien planet. Here's a look at some of the space-science concepts that play key roles in the film, which was directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. "Interstellar" is set at some nebulous point in the not-too-distant future, when global crop failures threaten humanity with extinction.


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Study: Global warming worsening watery dead zones

This handout photo provided by the Smithsonian shows dead juvenile menhaden fish floating to the surface during a dead zone event in Narragansett Bay, R.I. Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in waterways around the world and it’s only going to get worse, according to a new study.Dead zones occur in oceans, lakes and rivers when fertilizer runoff clog waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, which leads to an explosion of microbes that consumes oxygen and leaves the water starving for oxygen, harming marine life. (AP Photo/Andrew Altieri, Smithsonian)WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.


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Breakthrough Prizes in science, math earn winners $3 million each

Presenters Hamm and Jobs speak on stage during the 2nd Annual Breakthrough Prize Awards in Mountain ViewBy Sarah McBride SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Academia doesn't usually bring rich financial rewards. But that changed Sunday for recipients of a record 12 Breakthrough Prizes, the award created two years ago by Russian billionaire venture capitalist Yuri Milner, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and other tech industry luminaries. Each prize is worth $3 million, almost three times the cash a Nobel Prize winner receives. This year is the first to honor mathematicians. Five won for work ranging from algebraic geometry to analytic number theory. ...


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Why a Physics Revolution Might Be on Its Way

The field of physics may be turned on its head soon, said renowned physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed during a live lecture from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. The problem is that in some sense, the principles behind these theories seem to be impossible when physicists dig a little deeper into them, Arkani-Hamed said. The two ideas are also incredibly constraining, and they make it challenging for physicists to think outside the box and develop new ideas and theories, Arkani-Hamed said.





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