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Sat, 25 Mar 2017
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Better Earth

Stonehenge Settlement Found: Builders' Homes, "Cult Houses"

A major prehistoric village has been unearthed near Stonehenge in southern England.

The settlement likely housed the builders of the famous monument, archaeologists say, and was an important ceremonial site in its own right, hosting great "feasts and parties" (photo gallery).

Bizarro Earth

Life came from Mars' theory survives pressure test

OPPONENTS of the idea that life originated on Mars, and came to Earth on meteorites, have always been able to point to the huge impacts needed to eject rocks from the Martian surface. Surely, they argue, this would have killed any life they carried. Not so, says a study of the forces involved.

Key

Born under a bad sign?

THE star you were born under influences the person you become. Not something you expect to hear from scientists but, incredibly, it seems to be true. There is firm evidence that the time of year you are born affects not just your personality, but also your health, specifically your chances of developing serious mental illness. But don't expect to find clues in your horoscopes. The star in question is the star we were all born under - the sun.

Key

Snakes eat poisonous toads and steal their venom

Toads on the Japanese island of Ishima seem to be losing their evolutionary battle with snakes. Most snakes, and indeed most other animals, avoid eating toads because of the toxins in their skin. Rhabdophis tigrinus snakes, however, not only tolerate the toxins, they store the chemicals for their own defensive arsenal.

Cut

Be Aware of Danger! Courts Turn to Wikipedia

When a court-appointed special master last year rejected the claim of an Alabama couple that their daughter had suffered seizures after a vaccination, she explained her decision in part by referring to material from articles in Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia.

The reaction from the court above her, the United States Court of Federal Claims, was direct: the materials "culled from the Internet do not - at least on their face - meet" standards of reliability. The court reversed her decision.

Oddly, to cite the "pervasive, and for our purposes, disturbing series of disclaimers" concerning the site's accuracy, the same Court of Federal Claims relied on an article called "Researching With Wikipedia" found - where else? - on Wikipedia. (The family has reached a settlement, their lawyer said.)

Key

Hubble telescope's high-tech camera shuts down

The newest, most high-tech camera aboard the Hubble Space Telescope stopped working last weekend and two of its main capabilities are unlikely to recover, NASA officials said on Monday.

The telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys, meant to take images of huge swaths of the sky, shut down after an electrical short caused a power fuse to fail, the U.S. space agency's Preston Burch said on a telephone news briefing.

Key

Hot New Mystery Surrounds Saturn

For years astronomers have known that the upper atmospheres of Saturn and other giant planets are hotter than can be explained by absorbed sunlight. Today the mystery deepened.

The phenomenon has long been blamed on a mechanism similar to what creates the aurora, or Northern Lights on Earth. On Earth, magnetic energy in the magnetosphere drives the aurora and heats the upper atmosphere.

Bad Guys

Why do the self-styled defenders of reason, science, progress, and civilization so often act like bullies and thugs?

Item: Nineteenth century physicist William Crookes, later knighted for his contributions to science, conducts a series of seances with the young medium Florence Cook and declares her to be genuine. Crookes' detractors not only allege that he has taken leave of his senses, they insinuate that he is having an illicit affair with Florence. Though there is no evidence to support these claims, they continue to this day. Crookes saves his reputation only by retreating from the study of the paranormal.

Bizarro Earth

A New Way To Leak UFO (dis)Info?

What revelations and evils await us with the forthcoming debut of "wikileaks?"

Here is the hype from the placemarker website:

Bizarro Earth

Did humans wipe out Australia's big beasts?

To animals unfortunate enough to fall in, it was a death trap. To palaeontologists, it was a sensational discovery. Now the first detailed analysis of a spectacular cache of fossilised prehistoric "marsupial lions", giant wombats and kangaroos, owls and parrots discovered in a cave in Australia suggests that humans killed off the continent's megafauna.

©Clay Bryce, Western Australian Museum
First-known complete skeleton of the marsupial 'lion' Thylacoleo carnifex

The cache, found in the Nullarbor Plain in south-central Australia, contains fossils of 69 species of mammal, bird and reptile, and includes many complete skeletons, including the first of a marsupial lion (see above and artist's rendering below). There are also eight species of kangaroo that had never been recorded before.