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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 10, 2019 at 02:10. 7 comments

This Rock Shelter in Ethiopia May Be the Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in the Mountains

This Rock Shelter in Ethiopia May Be the Earliest Evidence of Humans Living in the Mountains

Archaeologists working in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia have uncovered the earliest evidence to date of human habitation in a high-altitude environment. Living over 11,000 feet above sea level, these early mountaineers ate rodents to survive the harsh ice age conditions.

New research published this week in Science describes the oldest known human occupancy of a high-altitude environment....

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 09, 2019. 23 comments

Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter

Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter

An amateur astronomer in Texas captured a rare sight earlier this week when an apparent meteor slammed into Jupiter’s thick upper atmosphere.

On Wednesday, amateur astronomer Ethan Chappel was on the lookout for Perseid meteors, reports ScienceAlert. But his telescope was trained on Jupiter with the camera running. Later, after feeding the data into a software program designed to detect impact...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 09, 2019. 10 comments

World’s Largest Frogs Are So Big, They Build Their Own Ponds

World’s Largest Frogs Are So Big, They Build Their Own Ponds

New evidence shows that Goliath frogs—the world’s largest species of frog—construct their own ponds, providing a safe space for their tadpoles to grow.

New research published today in the Journal of Natural History is the first to provide evidence of pond-building behavior in an African amphibian, namely the Goliath frog. This is the largest species of frog in the world, weighing upwards of...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 09, 2019. 13 comments

This Bottle of Vodka Was Made From Grain Grown Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

This Bottle of Vodka Was Made From Grain Grown Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Grains and water from Chernobyl’s dreaded exclusion zone have been used to produce a single bottle of vodka. Called ATOMIK, the vodka could revolutionize the way land is reclaimed in the radioactive region surrounding the beleaguered nuclear power plant.

A collaboration involving scientists from the UK and Ukraine has produced radioactive-free vodka from crops grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 08, 2019. 11 comments

Welp, Using Volcanoes to Understand Geoengineering Might Not Really Work

Welp, Using Volcanoes to Understand Geoengineering Might Not Really Work

The cooling effects of large volcanic eruptions have led some scientists to believe these natural hazards could inspire and inform the development of geoengineering schemes to combat climate change. New research suggests this is probably a bad idea.

Our planet may soon pass a critical tipping point , after which time a massive reduction of carbon emissions is still unlikely to swing the...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 08, 2019. 13 comments

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Stumbles Upon a Strangely Complicated Martian Rock

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Stumbles Upon a Strangely Complicated Martian Rock

The Curiosity team is calling it “Strathdon”—a boulder-sized Martian rock comprised of dozens of sedimentary layers. Its discovery suggests the area being explored by the NASA rover is more geologically complex than is typically appreciated.

For the past several months, Curiosity has been exploring a region called the “clay-bearing unit” within Gale Crater. This area, located along the slope...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 07, 2019. 12 comments

LightSail 2, Pushed by Sunlight, Raises Its Orbit by 10,500 Feet in Just Two Weeks

LightSail 2, Pushed by Sunlight, Raises Its Orbit by 10,500 Feet in Just Two Weeks

Two weeks after entering solar sailing mode, the Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft has managed to raise its orbit by nearly 2 miles, in an important test of this promising new means of propulsion.

LightSail 2 unfurled its 32-square-meter (344-square-foot) solar sail on July 23, around one month after it was deposited into low Earth orbit by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. At the time,...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 06, 2019. 5 comments

Military's Deadly Germ Lab Shut Down Due to Sloppy Work, Leaky Equipment

Military's Deadly Germ Lab Shut Down Due to Sloppy Work, Leaky Equipment

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shut down a leading military research facility for failing to meet established safety standards, halting important research into some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens and toxins.

Following an inspection in June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a cease-and-desist order to the Fort Detrick biodefense...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 03, 2019. 14 comments

Should Artificial Intelligence Be Credited as an Inventor?

Should Artificial Intelligence Be Credited as an Inventor?

A collaborative research team claims their artificially intelligent system should be recognized as the rightful inventor of two innovative designs, in a potentially disruptive development in patent law.

Patent law is complicated even at the best of times, but a new project led by researchers from the University of Surrey could make it more convoluted still. Called the Artificial Inventor...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 03, 2019. 16 comments

Scientists Went to China to Create Controversial Human-Monkey Embryos

Scientists Went to China to Create Controversial Human-Monkey Embryos

An international collaboration is claiming to have created hybridized human-monkey embryos in China. Disturbingly, the research could result in monkeys capable of producing human organs for transplants, leading to a host of ethical concerns.

A researcher involved in the experiment, biologist Estrella Núñez from the Catholic University of Murcia (UCAM), confirmed the achievement to Spanish news...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 02, 2019. 14 comments

This Football-Shaped Planet Is Leaking Heavy Metal

This Football-Shaped Planet Is Leaking Heavy Metal

This hot Jupiter is so close to its host star that gravitational forces are squeezing it into a football-like shape. Not only that, its temperatures are so extreme that heavy metal gases are escaping into space from the exoplanet’s atmosphere—a phenomenon never seen before until now.

Iron and magnesium gases are escaping the atmosphere of WASP-121b, a hot Jupiter located around 880 light-years...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 02, 2019. 8 comments

Another Study Finds Our Galaxy Is ‘Warped and Twisted’

Another Study Finds Our Galaxy Is ‘Warped and Twisted’

A team of Polish astronomers has created the most accurate three-dimensional map of the Milky Way to date, revealing surprising distortions and irregularities along the galactic disk.

Building an accurate map of the Milky Way is not easy.

Our location deep inside the gigantic structure means we can’t observe our galaxy externally, forcing us to envision its form from within. Dense expanses of...

8 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Aug 01, 2019.

Population of Critically Endangered Vaquita Porpoises Now Less Than 19 Individuals

Population of Critically Endangered Vaquita Porpoises Now Less Than 19 Individuals

There are now less than 19 individual vaquita porpoises left in the wild, according to an alarming new survey. Scientists say immediate measures are now required to save this enigmatic species from extinction.

If fishing nets continue to be used illegally off the coast of Mexico, vaquita porpoises (Phocoena sinus) will likely become extinct within a year, according to new research published...

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 31, 2019. 14 comments

Fragment of Medieval Poem About a Talking Vulva Found in Austrian Library

Fragment of Medieval Poem About a Talking Vulva Found in Austrian Library

The surprising discovery of a fragment inscribed with an old German poem, in which a female virgin argues with her genitals about who is more desirable to men, pushes the origin of the poem back 200 years, changing our conceptions of sexuality in the Middle Ages.

The saucy old poem is called Der Rosendorn, or The Rose Thorn, and only two copies of the text were known to exist prior to this...

14 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 30, 2019.

An Alarming Number of Arctic Reindeer Starved to Death Last Winter, Likely Due to Climate Change

An Alarming Number of Arctic Reindeer Starved to Death Last Winter, Likely Due to Climate Change

More than 200 reindeer starved to death this past winter on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The scientists who made the grim discovery say climate change is the likely culprit.

A team of researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) have completed their annual survey of reindeer populations on Svalbard, and the results are not good. The researchers found more than 200 reindeer...

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 30, 2019. 12 comments

Humans Will Never Colonize Mars

Humans Will Never Colonize Mars

The suggestion that humans will soon set up bustling, long-lasting colonies on Mars is something many of us take for granted. What this lofty vision fails to appreciate, however, are the monumental—if not intractable—challenges awaiting colonists who want to permanently live on Mars. Unless we radically adapt our brains and bodies to the harsh Martian environment, the Red Planet will forever...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 30, 2019. 14 comments

Florida Clarifies Its Directive to Kill Iguanas 'Whenever Possible' After Florida Man Gets Shot

Florida Clarifies Its Directive to Kill Iguanas 'Whenever Possible' After Florida Man Gets Shot

Earlier this month, Florida’s conservation authority urged homeowners to exterminate invasive green iguanas “whenever possible,” without the need for permits. The accidental shooting of a pool maintenance worker by an iguana hunter has now prompted state officials to clarify that directive, saying Florida is not the “wild west.”

When Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)...

14 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 30, 2019. 2 comments

Unexplained Radiation Leak Traced to Russian Nuclear Facility

Unexplained Radiation Leak Traced to Russian Nuclear Facility

Two years after a mysterious cloud of radiation swept through Europe, a team of scientists has pinpointed the source of the leak to a nuclear reprocessing plant in Russia, which was preparing materials for an Italian physics experiment at the time.

In early October 2017, a cloud of radioactive material swept through Europe. Monitoring stations from across the continent reported an apparently...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 27, 2019. 6 comments

Poll: Two in Five Americans Still Believe God Created Humans 10,000 Years Ago

Poll: Two in Five Americans Still Believe God Created Humans 10,000 Years Ago

A new Gallup poll shows that 40 percent of American adults comply to a strict view of creationism, in which God brought humans into existence within the last 10,000 years. More encouragingly, a record number of Americans now say God had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, yet for Americans, this seminal science...

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George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jul 26, 2019. 1 comments

SpaceX’s Starhopper Makes Its First Free-Flying Leap

SpaceX’s Starhopper Makes Its First Free-Flying Leap

SpaceX has completed its first untethered leap of Starhopper—a prototype for its planned Starship vehicle. The brief but important test now sets the stage for more ambitious jumps.

Without any tethers to guide its way or catch its fall, Starhopper rose 20 meters (65 feet) into the air, returning safely to the ground a few seconds later, reports SpaceNews. The test happened at around 11:45 p.m....

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