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Wed, 21 Feb 2018
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Science & Technology


Nanotube-producing bacteria show manufacturing promise

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Two engineers at the University of California, Riverside are part of a binational team that has found semiconducting nanotubes produced by living bacteria - a discovery that could help in the creation of a new generation of nanoelectronic devices.

©Signs of the Times
Nanotube-producing bacteria show manufacturing promise.

Better Earth

Save the Environment: Switch to Linux

True or False: Switching from a Windows-operated computer to a Linux-operated one could slash computer-generated e-waste levels by 50%.

The answer is: TRUE

A UK government study in late 2004 reported that there were substantial green benefits to running a Linux open source operating system (OS) on computers instead of the ubiquitous Windows OS, owned by Microsoft. The main problem with Windows users was that they had to change their computer twice as many times as Linux users, on average, thereby effectively creating twice as much computer-generated e-waste.


Mass extinctions: The armageddon factor

Why do some asteroid impacts and mega-eruptions wipe out most life on Earth while others leave barely a trace in the fossil record?

Comment: Recent indications are that you won't have to wait that long.


Duff sensor grounds space shuttle Atlantis until next year

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- NASA scrubbed space shuttle Atlantis' planned Sunday launch after a cut-off sensor designed to gauge the fuel level of the external liquid hydrogen tank failed another test, a space agency spokesman said.


Space Shuttle Scheduled to Lift Off Sunday

Cape Canaveral, Florida - NASA will try to launch the space shuttle Atlantis on Sunday under restrictive rules to deal with problem fuel sensors and an unusually tight liftoff schedule.


What's up in Space? BIG SUNSPOT

Sunspot 978 popped over the sun's eastern limb on Dec. 6th and it has quickly become one of the largest sunspots of the year. Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK photographed the active region yesterday:

©Pete Lawrence


Most ancient case of tuberculosis found in 500,000-year-old human; points to modern health issues

Although most scientists believe tuberculosis emerged only several thousand years ago, new research from The University of Texas at Austin reveals the most ancient evidence of the disease has been found in a 500,000-year-old human fossil from Turkey.

The discovery of the new specimen of the human species, Homo erectus, suggests support for the theory that dark-skinned people who migrate northward from low, tropical latitudes produce less vitamin D, which can adversely affect the immune system as well as the skeleton.


Animals Do the Cleverest Things

The chimp who outwits humans; the dolphin who says it with seaweed; the existential dog

An elephant that never forgets its extended family, a chimp that can outperform humans in a sophisticated test of visual memory and an amorous male dolphin that likes to say it with flowers -- well, a clump of river weeds to be more precise. These are just some of the recent observations from the field of animal behaviour. They appear to show that there is no limit to the intelligence of animals, but what do we really know about the true cognitive powers of the non-human brain?

Bizarro Earth

Did a massive comet kickstart plate tectonics on Earth?

It's such a simple idea that it's surprising no one seems to have thought of it before. Did a massive asteroid or comet impact kick-start plate tectonics on Earth?

For much of our planet's history, rocky plates have been sliding over a viscous, molten mantle, colliding to build mountain ranges or spreading apart to make way for oceans. In a neat piece of recycling, an oceanic plate dives, or "subducts", underneath a less dense continental plate, and eventually melts into the hot mantle.

Geologists estimate that plate tectonics began during the Archean period, between 2.5 and 3.8 billion years ago - but they don't know what triggered it. Ancient Earth was too hot for the crust to solidify completely, and the lightest minerals would have floated to the surface over the entire planet, making the subduction of denser plate material unlikely.


Hittites 'used germ warfare 3,500 years ago'

An ancient Middle-Eastern empire had already mastered the art of biological warfare almost 3,500 years ago, according to an Italian scientist.