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+ - Judge recognizes research chimps as "legal persons"->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge today granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals."
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+ - 3.46-billion-year-old 'fossils' were not created by life forms->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "What are the oldest fossils on Earth? For a long time, a 3.46-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia seemed to hold the record. A 1993 Science paper suggested that the Apex chert contained tiny, wormy structures that could have been fossilized cell walls of some of the world’s first cyanobacteria. But now there is more evidence that these structures have nothing to do with life. The elongated filaments were instead created by minerals forming in hydrothermal systems, researchers report. After the minerals were formed, carbon glommed on to the edges, leaving behind an organic signature that looked suspiciously like cell walls."
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+ - Interstellar-like blight could ravage Earth's wheat->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In the 2014 sci-fi movie Interstellar (pictured above), a cataclysmic blight has wiped out the world’s wheat, forcing astronauts to hunt for another habitable planet. A new study on barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), a wheat and cereal crop disease, shows that this fictional dystopia carries more than a few grains of truth. In lab tests, higher carbon dioxide boosted the reproduction of BYDV in wheat crops by 37%—the first time the gas has been shown to spur a plant virus. Heftier viral infections mean a wider range of spread, the team reports, suggesting a future where wheat faces more severe attacks from BYDV."
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+ - Scientists uncork 170-year-old campaign found in shipwreck->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 2010, divers recovered a trove of untouched 170-year-old champagne in a Baltic Sea shipwreck. Now, scientists have studied the sparkling wine's chemical composition and performed aroma and taste analyses to reveal details about the champagne-making process in times past. Tasters described the aroma of the champagne—likely the oldest ever imbibed—as spicy, smoky, and leathery. At 9% alcohol by volume, it was significantly less alcoholic than the modern version, which contains about 12% alcohol, likely due to a less efficient fermentation process. The researchers also found traces of chemicals from wood, suggesting that the champagne was fermented in barrels. Nuclear magnetic resonance measurements indicated that the bubbly, which was more sugary than the modern version, had likely been sweetened with grape syrup. The champagne had low levels of acetic acid, a marker of spoiled wine, indicating that it was well preserved. But the aged drink had lost much of its fizz, containing much less carbon dioxide than modern champagne, likely because it had diffused out through the cork during its centuries under the sea."
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+ - If Earth never had life, continents would be smaller-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It may seem counterintuitive, but life on Earth, even with all the messy erosion it creates, keeps continents growing. Presenting here this week at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union, researchers say it's the erosion itself that makes the difference in continental size. Plant life, for example, can root its way through rock, breaking rocks into sediment. The sediments, like milk-dunked cookies, carry liquid water in their pores, which allows more water to be recycled back into Earth’s mantle. If not enough water is present in the mantle about 100 to 200 km deep to keep things flowing, continental production decreases. The authors built a planetary evolution model to show how these processes relate and found that if continental weathering and erosion rates decreased, at first the continents would remain large. But over time, if life never evolved on Earth, not enough water would make its way to the mantle to help produce more continental crust, and whatever continents there were would then shrink. Now, continents cover 40% of the planet. Without life, that coverage would shrink to 30%. In a more extreme case, if life never existed, the continents might only cover 10% of Earth."
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+ - Resistance to antibiotics found in isolated Amazonian tribe->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When scientists first made contact with an isolated village of Yanomami hunter-gatherers in the remote mountains of the Amazon jungle of Venezuela in 2009, they marveled at the chance to study the health of people who had never been exposed to Western medicine or diets. But much to their surprise, these Yanomami’s gut bacteria have already evolved a diverse array of antibiotic-resistance genes, according to a new study, even though these mountain people had never ingested antibiotics or animals raised with drugs. The find suggests that microbes have long evolved the capability to fight toxins, including antibiotics, and that preventing drug resistance may be harder than scientists thought."
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+ - Colors help set body's internal clock->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The beautiful color of a sunset might be more than just a pretty picture. It could be a signal to our bodies that it’s time to reset our internal clock, the biological ticktock that governs everything from sleep patterns to digestion. That’s the implication of a new study in mice that shows these small rodents use light’s changing color to set their own clocks, a finding that researchers expect will hold for humans, too."
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+ - Scientists close to solving the mystery of where dogs came from->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For years researchers have argued over where and when dogs arose. Some say Europe, some say Asia. Some say 15,000 years ago. some say more than 30,000 years ago. Now an unprecedented collaboration of archaeologists and geneticists from around the world is attempting to solve the mystery once and for all. They're analyzing thousands of bones, employing new technologies, and trying to put aside years of bad blood and bruised egos. If the effort succeeds, the former competitors will uncover the history of man's oldest friend—and solve one of the greatest mysteries of domestication."
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+ - Newly discovered sixth extinction rivals that of the dinosaurs->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Earth has seen its share of catastrophes, the worst being the “big five” mass extinctions scientists traditionally talk about. Now, paleontologists are arguing that a sixth extinction, 260 million years ago, at the end of a geological age called the Capitanian, deserves to be a member of the exclusive club. In a new study, they offer evidence for a massive die-off in shallow, cool waters in what is now Norway. That finding, combined with previous evidence of extinctions in tropical waters, means that the Capitanian was a global catastrophe."
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+ - Earth microbe prefers living on meteorites->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Scientists have found a microbe that is happier living on meteorites than on Earth. The organism—an archaea known as Metallosphaera sedula—was originally found in 1989 living in Italy's hot acidic sulfur springs around Vesuvius. When the researchers gave them an energy drink made of powdered meteorite, the microbes went on a space dust binge—consuming their samples in only 2 weeks as compared with the 2 months it took for them to munch through their Earth samples. The team says its work could have implications for asteroid mining, where rare metals embedded in space rocks could be extracted and brought back to Earth for use in technological advancements."
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+ - Self-powered camera runs on sunlight-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Engineers have developed a prototype camera that powers itself with the light it gathers. The device’s sensor contains circuitry that doesn’t just collect light to form an image; it converts light into power like a solar cell does. The researchers used the 30-by-40-pixel sensor to record videos (above) that capture one frame per second. Each pixel in the prototype device is about 4 millimeters across, about 1000 times the size of a pixel found on a typical digital camera’s light-collecting sensor. But if the new prototype’s circuitry were miniaturized and etched onto an energy-efficient chip, it could readily power itself in a moderately sized, lamp-lit room and capture 640-by-480-pixel video."
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+ - World's oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers say they have found the oldest tools made by human ancestors—stone flakes dated to 3.3 million years ago. That’s 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before our genus Homo arrived on the scene. If correct, the new evidence could confirm disputed claims for very early tool use, and it suggests that ancient australopithecines like the famed “Lucy” may have fashioned stone"
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+ - Subtly shifted star could force rethink of dark matter->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For decades, astrophysicists have thought that some sort of mysterious dark matter must provide most of the gravity that glues galaxies together. For nearly as long, scientists have tried to spot the stuff interacting with ordinary matter in some other way—say, by looking for particles of it bouncing off atomic nuclei. Now, a team of astronomers reports a potential sign of dark matter interacting—although not with ordinary matter, but with itself. If it holds up, that interpretation would require a major rethink of astrophysics and cosmology."
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+ - Blue lights could prevent bird strikes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Bird strikes—the collision between birds and aircraft—are among the most common aviation hazards. They destroy planes, kill people, and, in the United States alone, cause an estimated $700 million in damage each year. One possible approach to reducing collisions lies in outfitting planes with warning lights that would help birds notice their approach and avoid a collision, but the differences between human and avian sight—which include a wider color space and higher sensitivity to ultraviolet light in birds—make developing such solutions complicated. Now, researchers have found that blue LED lights (with a wavelength of 470 nm) are the most conspicuous to brown-headed cowbirds, which often collide with aircraft. The scientists fitted lights of this color to a small, remote-controlled model airplane. They then recorded the reactions of cowbirds in cages to this plane—both when stationary and when flying toward the birds—with the lights on, off, and pulsing. The researchers found that having the lights on made the cowbirds five times more likely to exhibit an alert response to the stationary plane than without; the birds were also twice as quick to respond to planes with lights than to planes without lights."
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+ - Plaque-busting nanoparticles could help fight tooth decay->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Nanotechnology might soon save you a trip to the dentist. Researchers have developed tiny sphere-shaped particles that ferry a payload of bacteria-slaying drugs to the surface of the teeth, where they fight plaque and tooth decay on the spot. The approach could also be adapted to combat other plaquelike substances, known as biofilms, such as those that form on medical devices like orthopedic implants."
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