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Sci/Tech
 

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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Ozone-Depleting Compound Persists, NASA Research Shows

NASA research shows Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide.NASA research shows Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide.

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Wildland Fire Modeling Can Lead to Better Predictions

If we can better understand scientifically how wildland fires behave, we'll have a better chance to accurately predict the spatial and temporal evolution of high intensity wildfires, says Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean of the UAH College of Engineering, and professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

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8,000-year-old mutation key to human life at high altitudes

In an environment where others struggle to survive, Tibetans thrive in the thin air on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of 14,800 feet. A University of Utah led discovery that hinged as much on strides in cultural diplomacy as on scientific advancements, is the first to identify a genetic variation, or mutation, that contributes to the adaptation, and to reveal how it works. The research appears online in the journal Nature Genetics on Aug. 17, 2014.

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Toothless 'dragon' pterosaurs dominated the Late Cretaceous skies

A new study provides an exciting insight into the Late Cretaceous and the diversity and distribution of the toothless 'dragon' pterosaurs from the Azhdarchidae family. The research was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

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Early Antibiotic Exposure Leads to Lifelong Metabolic Disturbances in Mice

A new study published today in Cell suggests that antibiotic exposure during a critical window of early development disrupts the bacterial landscape of the gut, home to trillions of diverse microbes, and permanently reprograms the body's metabolism, setting up a predisposition to obesity. Moreover, the study shows that it is altered gut bacteria, rather than the antibiotics, driving the metabolic effects.

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Video: Our Curiosity

The Curiosity Mars Rover is one of the most complex machines ever built, a fully equipped analytical laboratory rolling around on the surface of another planet. "Our Curiosity" celebrates the mission's exploratory spirit and scientific prowess with narration from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Felicia Day, and an original score from Austin Wintory.

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Stanford's Maryam Mirzakhani wins Fields Medal

Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford, has been awarded the 2014 Fields Medal, the most prestigious honor in mathematics. Mirzakhani is the first woman to win the prize, widely regarded as the "Nobel Prize of mathematics," since it was established in 1936.

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Trapped atmospheric waves triggered more weather extremes

Weather extremes in the summer - such as the record heat wave in the United States that hit corn farmers and worsened wildfires in 2012 - have reached an exceptional number in the last ten years. Man-made global warming can explain a gradual increase in periods of severe heat, but the observed change in the magnitude and duration of some events is not so easily explained. It has been linked to a recently discovered mechanism: the trapping of giant waves in the atmosphere. A new data analysis now shows that such wave-trapping events are indeed on the rise.

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Stanford research shows value of clams, mussels in cleaning dirty water

Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, herbicides and flame retardants are increasingly showing up in waterways. New Stanford research finds that a natural, low-cost solution – clams and mussels – may already exist for these contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs.

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Ancient shellfish remains rewrite 10,000-year history of El Niño cycles

The planet's largest and most powerful driver of climate changes from one year to the next, the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific Ocean, was widely thought to have been weaker in ancient times because of a different configuration of the Earth's orbit. But scientists analyzing 25-foot piles of ancient shells have found that the El Niños 10,000 years ago were as strong and frequent as the ones we experience today.

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How the woodpecker avoids brain injury despite high-speed impacts via optimal anti-shock body structure

Designing structures and devices that protect the body from shock and vibrations during high-velocity impacts is a universal challenge.

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Tests find consumer products tainted with toxic PCBs

Tests of 68 consumer products confirmed that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are present in commonly used items. Forty-nine, or 72 percent, of the products contained at least one of four PCB types.

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Pyrocumulonimbus Cloud Rises Up from Canadian Wildfires

The Northern Territories in Canada is experiencing one of its worst fire seasons in history. As of this date, there have been 344 wildfires that have burned 2,830,907 hectares of land (close to 7 million acres).

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Rosetta Arrives at Target Comet

Today, after a decade-long journey chasing its target, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, carrying three NASA instruments, became the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

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WSU researchers see violent era in ancient American Southwest

It's a given that, in numbers terms, the 20th century was the most violent in world history, with civil wars, purges and two world wars killing as many as 200 million people.

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For-profit home care agencies cost Medicare billions extra, yet provide worse care: Health Affairs study

For-profit home health agencies are far costlier for Medicare than nonprofit agencies, according to a nationwide study published today [Monday, Aug. 4] in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs. Overall cost per patient was $1,215 higher at for-profits, with operating costs accounting for $752 of the difference and excess profits for $463. Yet the quality of care was actually worse at for-profit agencies, and more of their patients required repeat hospitalizations.

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Scientists uncover combustion mechanism to better predict warming by wildfires

Scientists have uncovered key attributes of so-called "brown carbon" from wildfires, airborne atmospheric particles that may have influenced current climate models that failed to take the material's warming effects into account. The work was described by a collaborative team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Montana in the journal Nature Geosciences this week.

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MU Scientists Call for Increased Conservation Efforts to Save Black Bears

Between 1880 and 1920, the Central Interior Highlands (CIH), consisting of Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, saw the height of deforestation that also decreased the habitat for black bears and other forest species. To combat the decline of black bears and repopulate the mountainous region, more than 250 bears from Minnesota and Manitoba were relocated to Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have analyzed genetic diversity in black bears in the CIH and have determined that coordinated conservation management is still needed to maintain healthy populations of black bears in the region.

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UC Davis: Funds awarded to begin construction of Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

The National Science Foundation has agreed to support the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy to manage the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope construction project, with a budget of up to $473 million. The announcement caps more than 10 years of developing, planning and reviewing of the LSST concept.

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Stanford professor finds that slash and burn agriculture and wildfires play bigger role in climate change

It has long been known that biomass burning – burning forests to create agricultural lands, burning savannah as a ritual , slash-and-burn agriculture and wildfires – figures into both climate change and public health.

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Asteroid attacks significantly altered ancient Earth

New research shows that more than four billion years ago, the surface of Earth was heavily reprocessed – or mixed, buried and melted – as a result of giant asteroid impacts. A new terrestrial bombardment model based on existing lunar and terrestrial data sheds light on the role asteroid bombardments played in the geological evolution of the uppermost layers of the Hadean Earth (approximately 4 to 4.5 billion years ago).

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