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Wandering Jupiter could have swept inner solar system clean

By A wandering baby Jupiter could help explain why there are no planets closer to the sun than Mercury and why the innermost planet is so tiny, a new study suggests. Jupiter’s core might have formed close to the sun and then meandered through the rocky planet construction zone. As the infant Jupiter moved, […]

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Antarctic history suggests ice sheet ‘danger’ threshold

By Assembling a detailed timeline surrounding the Antarctic ice sheet’s inception around 34 million years ago, scientists have identified a carbon dioxide “danger zone” for the ice sheet’s demise. Based on CO2 levels when the ice sheet formed, the researchers report that Antarctica’s ice will be “dramatically” more vulnerable to melting once CO2 surpasses […]

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Mountains on Pluto are a winter wonderland of methane snow

By Over the ground lies a mantle of white — on Pluto. Snow-capped peaks on the dwarf planet dot an otherwise ruddy terrain. But these snowy summits appear to be composed of methane, not water, researchers report online March 3. Mountain tops in Pluto’s Cthulhu Regio, a dark landscape abutting the planet’s famous heart, […]

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3.5 billion years ago, oceans were cool, not hot

By About 3.5 billion years ago, Earth’s oceans were cool, not inhospitably hot as previously thought. In fact, the entire planet at the time was probably locked in a cold snap that lasted at least 30 million years, a new study concludes. The findings, published online February 26 in Science Advances, could change the […]

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Ancient tectonic plate blocks magma plume at Yellowstone

By The supervolcano lurking under Yellowstone National Park may not have resulted from a rising plume of hot rock from the planet’s depths as previously suggested. New simulations of North America’s underside reveal that the mantle plume blamed for powering the Yellowstone supervolcano is in fact cut off from the surface by the remnants […]

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Equipment failure pushes back Mars lander mission

By A leaky instrument will delay launch of the Mars InSight lander by at least two years, NASA announced at a December 22 press conference. The probe was slated to head to Mars in March 2016 to study the planet’s interior and reveal how terrestrial worlds (including Earth) form. Hopes of an on-time launch […]

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Ancient Mammoth Unearthed in Michigan

By: [youtube] The owner of the partial mammoth skeleton uncovered near Chelsea last week decided on October 4 to donate the bones to the University of Michigan for display and study. James Bristle, the farmer who discovered the bones while installing drainage pipe in one of his fields, said he wants to share […]

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Sky-High Price of New Stem Cell Therapies Is a Growing Concern

By: The public uproar about high drug prices has focused on outlandish cases such as single pills jacked up in price by 5,000%, miracle cures marketed for tens of thousands of dollars per treatment. But how will people feel when they’re confronted with treatments that are even more astronomically expensive? That’s certain to become […]

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Visions of Future Physics

By: Get Nima Arkani-Hamed going on the subject of the universe—not difficult—and he’ll talk for as many minutes or hours as it takes to transport you to the edge of human understanding, and then he’ll talk you past the edge, beyond Einstein, beyond space-time and quantum mechanics and all those tired tropes of 20th-century […]

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For 40 Years, No One Knew This Woman Discovered a Malaria Cure. Now She’s Won a Nobel.

By: Yesterday, Tu Youyou became one of three scientists to win this year’s Nobel Prize for medicine for her discovery of what has become a standard antimalarial treatment, artemisinin. But, remarkably, the public had no idea about Tu’s lifesaving achievement until just four years ago. The backstory behind the 84-year-old Chinese pharmacologist’s work is […]

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The German Astronomer Who Found Neptune

By: On a September night in 1846, a Berlin astronomer was the first person to directly observe Neptune – but he wasn’t about to get full credit for the find. The Local spoke to Susanne Hoffmann from Berlin Planetarium to find out what made the discovery of Neptune so extraordinary. On the night of […]

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The Good of Metaphysics

By: Metaphysics, despite what booksellers may offer in the way of do-it-yourself witchcraft manuals and stories of UFOs, is much different than any popular misconception of its meaning. For Aristotle, the starting point of Wisdom, or philosophy, was metaphysics. Modernity has more or less rejected metaphysics in its quest for self-destruction. But metaphysics will […]

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Fossil Pigment Reveals Color of Ancient Mammals

By: Scientists from the University of Bristol and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute have just determined the original color of an extinct mammal, specifically two species of prehistoric bats that lived along a lake in the middle of a tropical forest that once existed in Germany. By studying microscopic structures in the 49 million year […]

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A New Map Traces the Limits of Computation

By: At first glance, the big news coming out of this summer’s conference on the theory of computing appeared to be something of a letdown. For more than 40 years, researchers had been trying to find a better way to compare two arbitrary strings of characters, such as the long strings of chemical letters […]

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Light-Based Memory Chip Is First to Permanently Store Data

By: Today’s electronic computer chips work at blazing speeds. But an alternate version that stores, manipulates, and moves data with photons of light instead of electrons would make today’s chips look like proverbial horses and buggies. Now, one team of researchers reports that it has created the first permanent optical memory on a chip, […]

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Altered States of Reading (Part 2): Pynchon and the Psi Reflex

By: Thomas Pynchon’s sprawling unfinished 1972 novel Gravity’s Rainbow centers on an American army lieutenant, Tyrone Slothrop, whose amorous conquests around WWII London infallibly predict German V2 rocket strikes in an otherwise random distribution throughout the city. Slothrop’s weird ability puts him under the scrutiny of “Psi Section”—a division of military intelligence—who link his […]

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