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March 2011
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Weekend Feature: Astronomers Zoom in on "Super-Exotic Super-Earth"


An international team of astronomers have revealed details of a "super-exotic" exoplanet named 55 Cancri e, that is 60 per cent larger in diameter than Earth but eight times as massive. Twice as dense as Earth –- almost as dense as lead –- it is the densest solid planet known, according to a team led by astronomers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia, the Harvard‑Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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Are Intelligent Machines Poised to Replicate?

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0147e1746980970b-320wi "It seems plausible that with technology we can, in the fairly near future create (or become) creatures who surpass humans in every intellectual and creative dimension. Events beyond such an event -- such a singularity -- are as unimaginable to us as opera is to a flatworm."

Vernor Vinge -SciFi great

The Singularity is an apocalyptic idea originally proposed by John von Neumann, one of the inventors of digital computation, and elucidated by figures such as Ray Kurzweil and scifi great Vernor Vinge.

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Massive Black Hole Reveals Previously Unknown History of Universe


Cambridge University astronomers have discovered the 'missing link' in the evolution of the Universe following the Big Bang, it was claimed today. For years scientists have known nothing about the 'dark ages' of space -- a period between the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and the creation of the first stars. But newly captured light emitted from a massive black hole has allowed scientists to peer into this unknown portion of the history of the Universe.

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Is Titan's Atmosphere Capable of Evolving DNA? (Today's Most Popular)


Saturn's moon Titan has many of the components for life without liquid water. But the orange hydrocarbon haze that shrouds Saturn's largest moon could be creating the molecules that make up DNA without the help of water –- an ingredient widely thought to be necessary for the molecules' formation according to a new study.

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Image of the Day: Green Flash on Moon Observed from Chile's Atacama Observatory


Early one morning, an engineer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile's Atacama Desert,used the Very Large Telescope to capture these rare and awesome images of the setting moon, complete with its rare green flash.

The European Space Agency regards Gerhard Hüdepohl's series of photographs as the best ever taken of the moon's rarely sighted green flash, created as the light from the moon hits the low, dense layers of its atmosphere. The green light is refracted at a greater angle than red. In exceptional conditions, the relative densities of the atmospheric layers underscore the separation between the green and red light, resulting in a green flash atop the setting orange and red moon. 

Image credit: Gerhard Hüdepohl/ESO

NewsFlash: Voyager Set to Enter Interstellar Space of Milky Way 30 Years After Launch


More than 30 years after they left Earth, NASA's twin Voyager probes are now at the edge of the solar system. Not only that, they're still working. And with each passing day they are beaming back a messages any one of which could contain an unextected discovery about the cosmos.

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Alien Eyes: Andromeda Galaxy Viewed Through the Electromagnetic Spectrum


"Our human window on the Universe is terribly small within a stunningly small range of wavelengths. With our eyes we see wavelengths between 0.00004 and 0.00008 of a centimeter (where, not so oddly, the Sun and stars emit most of their energy). The human visual spectrum from violet to red is but one octave on an imaginary electromagnetic piano with a keyboard hundreds of kilometers long."

James Kaler, astronomer and author of "Heavens Gate: From Killer Stars to the Seeds of Life, How We are Connected to the Universe."

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NewsAlert: NASA's Search for Parallel Universes & Dark Matter to Launch Tomorrow

Parallel-universes A futuristic experiment sounding like something out of a scifi novel, that will hunt for antimatter galaxies and signs of dark matter, was nearly cancelled but is finally poised to voyage into orbit aboard the next-to-last space shuttle mission.

The $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a more than 15,000-pound (6,900-kilogram) device searching for cosmic- rays -- high-energy charged particles from outer space -- will ride up to the International Space Station on the shuttle Endeavour this Friday April 29.

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NASA Robots Probe Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Reactor


The really scary thing about Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis is that the cores were drifting toward meltdown, and humans couldn't reach them. Helicopter missions to dump water on the reactors were called off due to radiation, and more than 90 percent of the plant's workers had to evacuate. Catastrophe was imminent because humans could do nothing. But our robot creations could: they can survive radiation, and if radiation kills them, they are expendable.

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