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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Record-breaking black hole outburst detected

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 03:25 PM PST

Last September, after years of watching, astronomers observed and recorded the largest-ever flare in X-rays from a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Milky Way core drives wind at 2 million miles per hour

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 03:25 PM PST

At a time when our earliest human ancestors had recently mastered walking upright, the heart of our Milky Way galaxy underwent a titanic eruption, driving gases and other material outward at 2 million miles per hour. Now, at least 2 million years later, astronomers are witnessing the aftermath of the explosion: billowing clouds of gas towering about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy.

Hubble goes high def to revisit the iconic ‘Pillars of Creation'

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 03:25 PM PST

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous "Pillars of Creation" region of the Eagle Nebula (M16), providing astronomers with a sharper and wider view. As a bonus, the pillars have been photographed in near-infrared light, as well as visible light.

Fracking in Ohio confirmed as cause of rare earthquake strong enough to be felt

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 03:24 PM PST

A new study links the March 2014 earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio, to hydraulic fracturing that activated a previously unknown fault. The induced seismic sequence included a rare felt earthquake of magnitude 3.0, according to new research.

Humans, sparrows make sense of sounds in similar ways: Complex set of cognitive skills

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The song of the swamp sparrow -- a grey-breasted bird found in wetlands throughout much of North America -- is a simple melodious trill. But according to a new study swamp sparrows are capable of processing the notes that make up their simple songs in more sophisticated ways than previously realized -- an ability that may help researchers better understand the perceptual building blocks that enable language in humans.

Cold virus replicates better at cooler temperatures

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The common cold virus can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperatures found inside the nose than at core body temperature, according to a new study. This finding may confirm the popular yet contested notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather conditions.

Super-Earths have long-lasting oceans

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

For life as we know it to develop on other planets, those planets would need liquid water, or oceans. Geologic evidence suggests that Earth's oceans have existed for nearly the entire history of our world. But would that be true of other planets, particularly super-Earths? New research suggests the answer is yes and that oceans on super-Earths, once established, can last for billions of years.

Stars' spins reveal their ages

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

When you're a kid every birthday is cause for celebration, but as you get older they become a little less exciting. You might not want to admit just how old you are. And you might notice yourself slowing down over the years. You're not alone -- the same is true of stars. They slow down as they age, and their ages are well-kept secrets. Astronomers are taking advantage of the first fact to tackle the second and tease out stellar ages.

Exposure to cold reveals 'switch' that controls formation of brown, white fat

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

The roles that white fat and brown fat play in metabolism is well documented, but new research presents a new wrinkle: each type of fat may change into the other, depending on the temperature. In particular, cold temperatures may encourage 'unhealthy' white fat to change into 'healthy' brown fat.

New perspective on snake evolution

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

Snakes may not have shoulders, but their bodies aren't as simple as commonly thought, according to a new study that could change how scientists think snakes evolved. Rather than snakes evolving from a lizard ancestor to a more simplified body form, researchers say their findings suggest other animals gained more complex vertebral columns as they evolved.

'Imaginary meal' tricks body into losing weight

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:27 AM PST

A more effective diet pill has been developed by scientists. Unlike most diet pills on the market, this new pill, called fexaramine, doesn't dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs, but remains in the intestines, causing fewer side effects, like an "imaginary meal," the researchers explain.

Acoustic levitation made simple

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

Scientists have developed a new levitation device that can hover a tiny object with more control than any instrument that has come before.

Why is Greenland covered in ice?

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

The ice on Greenland could only form due to processes in the deep Earth interior. Scientists now explain why the conditions for the glaciation of Greenland developed only so recently on a geological time scale.

The bowhead whale lives over 200 years. Can its genes tell us why?

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 07:14 AM PST

A whale that can live over 200 years with little evidence of age-related disease may provide untapped insights into how to live a long and healthy life. Researchers present in a new report the complete bowhead whale genome and identify key differences compared to other mammals. Alterations in bowhead genes related to cell division, DNA repair, cancer, and aging may have helped increase its longevity and cancer resistance.

New analyses of Martian chemical maps suggest water bound to sulfates in soil

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 06:27 AM PST

A spatial association between the presence of sulfur and hydrogen found in Martian soil has been proposed by scientists. The team suggests that further observations by the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater could move forward models of aqueous processes on Mars. For example, recent analyses of "Rocknest" soil samples suggest complementary modes of soil hydration in the Gale Crater area.

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