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Monday, September 22 2014

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NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Reaches Mars

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars' orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

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Monster galaxies gain weight by eating smaller neighbours

Massive galaxies in the Universe have stopped making their own stars and are instead snacking on nearby galaxies, according to research by Australian scientists.

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World Rhino day 2014: Research to help rhinos survive

World Rhino Day on 22 September celebrates all five species of rhino – the Black, White, Greater One-Horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos – living abundantly and free. Initiated in 2010 by WWF-South Africa when poaching started to escalate, it has since became an international event, uniting people and organisations from across the world who are committed to saving these animals.

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The Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs : new hadrosaur noses into spotlight

Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

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Creating Pancakes using Galaxy Collisions-Violent Origins of Disk Galaxies Probed by Radio Telescopes

Observations of colliding galaxies using ALMA and other radio telescopes have revealed that collisions between galaxies are likely to result in a galaxy with a gaseous disk structure. This is an important result, which gives us a clue about how disk galaxies like our own Milky Way form.

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Early Earth less hellish than previously thought

Conditions on Earth for the first 500 million years after it formed may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates.


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219 million stars: Astronomers release most detailed catalogue ever made of the visible Milky Way

A new catalogue of the visible part of the northern part of our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. Geert Barentsen of the University of Hertfordshire led a team who assembled the catalogue in a ten year programme using the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands. Their work appears today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Scientists Report First Semiaquatic Dinosaur, Spinosaurus

Scientists are unveiling what appears to be the first truly semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment. The fossils also indicate that Spinosaurus was the largest known predatory dinosaur to roam the Earth, measuring more than nine feet longer than the world's largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.

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USGS: 20-Year Study Shows Levels of Pesticides Still a Concern for Aquatic Life in U.S. Rivers and Streams

Levels of pesticides continue to be a concern for aquatic life in many of the Nation's rivers and streams in agricultural and urban areas, according to a new USGS study spanning two decades (1992-2011). Pesticide levels seldom exceeded human health benchmarks.

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A tale of two springs

By the end of this century, mean annual temperatures in the Northeastern United States are expected to warm by 3-5 °C, which will have significant impacts on the structure and function of temperate forests in this region. To improve understanding of these impacts, we exploited two recent climate anomalies to explore how the springtime phenology of Northeastern temperate deciduous forests will respond to future climate warming.

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Gaia discovers its first supernova

While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered its first stellar explosion in another galaxy far, far away.

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NASA Research Gives Guideline for Future Alien Life Search

Astronomers searching the atmospheres of alien worlds for gases that might be produced by life can't rely on the detection of just one type, such as oxygen, ozone, or methane, because in some cases these gases can be produced non-biologically, according to extensive simulations by researchers in the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory.

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Geomagnetic Storm Category G3 Predicted

The first of the two CMEs predicted to arrive today made its appearance right on time. G1 ((Minor) geomagnetic storming is expected to begin within the next few hours with a maximum projected level of G2 (Moderate) storms for September 12th. A G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch is still in effect for September 13th due to the combined influence of this CME and the one projected to arrive late on the 12th. G1 (Minor) storming is likely to continue into September 14th. In addition, the S1 (Minor) solar radiation storm that is in progress as a result of the eruption on September 10th is expected to persist for the next few days with a possible slight increase with the arrival of the CMEs. Keep in mind that the forecast periods listed are in Universal Time so aurora watchers in the northern U.S. should be looking for possible activity tonight through Saturday night. Stay tuned for updates.

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Volunteer 'eyes on the skies' track peregrine falcon recovery in California

In recovery from the deadly legacy of DDT, American peregrine falcons (Falco peregrines anatum) faced new uncertainty in 1992, when biologists proposed to stop rearing young birds in captivity and placing them in wild nests. Tim Wootton and Doug Bell published models that year in ESA's journal Ecological Applications, projecting population trends for the falcon in California, with and without direct human intervention in the falcons' reproductive lives. They concluded that the birds would continue to recover without captive rearing, though the population growth rate might slow. Fledgling introductions had bolstered wild falcon numbers and genetic diversity, but survival would ultimately depend on cleaning up lingering DDT contamination to create healthy conditions for wild birds, they argued.

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Increased ocean warming spells trouble for Florida reefs

Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Dietary Recommendations in the U.S. Tied to Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

If Americans altered their menus to conform to federal dietary recommendations, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases tied to agricultural production could increase significantly, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.

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T. Rex times seven: New dinosaur species is discovered in Argentina

Scientists have discovered and described a new supermassive dinosaur species with the most complete skeleton ever found of its type. At 85 feet long and weighing about 65 tons in life, Dreadnoughtus schrani is the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated.

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Oxygen-producing life forms appeared at least 60 million years earlier than previously thought

Geologists from Trinity College Dublin have rewritten the evolutionary history books by finding that oxygen-producing life forms were present on Earth some 3 billion years ago – a full 60 million years earlier than previously thought. These life forms were responsible for adding oxygen (O2) to our atmosphere, which laid the foundations for more complex life to evolve and proliferate.

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Study: Pacific Northwest shows human-caused warming trend over past century-plus

The annual mean temperature in the Pacific Northwest has warmed by about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since the early 20th century – a gradual warming trend that has been accelerating over the past 3-4 decades and is attributed to anthropogenic, or human, causes.

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Quality of US diet shows modest improvement, but overall remains poor

Dietary quality in the U.S. has improved steadily in recent years—spurred in large part by reduced trans fat intake—but overall dietary quality remains poor and disparities continue to widen among socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

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Home Is Where the Microbes Are

A person's home is their castle, and they populate it with their own subjects: millions and millions of bacteria.

A study published today in Science provides a detailed analysis of the microbes that live in houses and apartments. The study was conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago.

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Walking Fish Reveal How Our Ancestors Evolved Onto Land

About 400 million years ago a group of fish began exploring land and evolved into tetrapods – today's amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. But just how these ancient fish used their fishy bodies and fins in a terrestrial environment and what evolutionary processes were at play remain scientific mysteries.

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Mystery Solved: "Sailing Stones" of Death Valley Seen in Action for the First Time

Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a "playa," are hundreds of rocks – some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) – that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters.

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NASA's Spitzer Telescope Witnesses Asteroid Smashup

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.

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Marching in unison - as riot police do - increases the likelihood that law enforcement will use excessive force

In the aftermath of the Aug. 9 shooting of an 18-year-old African American man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, much of the nation's attention has been focused on how law enforcement's use of military gear might have inflamed tensions.

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Yellowstone supereruption would send ash across North America

In the unlikely event of a volcanic supereruption at Yellowstone National Park, the northern Rocky Mountains would be blanketed in meters of ash, and millimeters would be deposited as far away as New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, according to a new study.

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State Medical Marijuana Laws Linked to Lower Prescription Overdose Deaths

In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal, new research suggests.

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America's Data Centers Consuming Massive and Growing Amounts of Electricity

Much of the massive amounts of electricity that America's data centers devour to support our business and online activity is being wasted running computer servers doing little or no work most of the time, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Improved energy efficiency practices could cut energy waste by at least 40 percent, saving over $3 billion annually.

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Seven Things to Know About Ebola: Small chance of infection in North America

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has passed 1,000 and is still rising, according to the World Health Organization. Fear of the virus and concerns about its spread beyond Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are also soaring.

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Poll finds many in US lack knowledge about Ebola and its transmission

Although the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) reports no known cases of Ebola transmission in the United States, a Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)/SSRS poll released today (August 21, 2014) shows that four in ten (39%) adults in the U.S. are concerned that there will be a large outbreak in the U.S., and a quarter (26%) are concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola over the next year.

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