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March 15, 2013
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  Top Story 
  • Study: Ancient birds used 4 wings in flight
    Scientists in China have detailed the fossil specimens of 11 types of four-winged birds, according to a report in the journal Science. The "basal birds" show evidence of eventually losing the hind-limb wings in favor of the two forelimb wings and birdlike feet, a crucial transition that "may have played an important role in the evolution of flight," researchers said. While the existence of four-winged birds has been confirmed, the two-dimensional nature of the fossils make it difficult for scientists to explain the aerodynamic function, if any, of having four wings. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  Science in the News 
 
  • Scientists find a thriving world beneath the ocean's surface
    The mysterious life that exists beneath the ocean's floor may in fact be a massive ecosystem thriving on chemosynthesis, chemical reactions from water with rock, according to a study published in the journal Science. Considering that oceanic crust is on 60% of the planet's surface, researchers say the "dark biosphere" might be the Earth's largest ecosystem. Scientists also say the discovery of life in rock surfaces further confirms the possibility of life on other planets. Our Amazing Planet (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Could Pluto have 10 more moons?
    When Pluto's fifth moon, P5, was discovered last year, NASA officials in charge of the New Horizons mission to explore the far-off dwarf planet were forced to re-plan their course. But when scientists ran simulations to learn more about the five moons, they discovered evidence of at least 10 tiny uncharted moons, creating more complications for the 2015 mission. Scientists say they wouldn't be able to spot any of the possible moons from Earth, so are instead working to discover how they came to orbit the dwarf planet and gain a better understanding of what exactly they are. Space.com (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Huge exoplanet could unlock secrets of our own solar system
    A massive alien planet in the star HR 8799, about 130 light-years from Earth, may help scientists better understand how our own solar system came to be. Scientists are zeroing in on the glowing atmosphere of planet HR 8799c, one of four planets in the system. "We have broken the light from the planet down to such a fine level of detail that the chemical fingerprints of the molecules in the atmosphere are breathtakingly sharp and distinct. This is important because it requires data of this quality to truly probe the makeup of a planetary atmosphere, and in turn, say something about how the planet formed," said the study's lead author Quinn Konopacky, Space.com (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Ethicists consider oversight of patient-led research
    As more patients become citizen-scientists and conduct research on themselves, with peer-reviewed journals increasingly publishing the results, ethicists are considering how to tailor ethical oversight to reduce bias and increase safety. Ethical oversight needs to be flexible enough to accommodate the distinctive character and various forms of patient-led research, Institute of Biomedical Ethics research fellow Effy Vayena writes. Vayena and colleagues discuss in the journal PLoS Medicine possible models for oversight. The Scientist online (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  Funding Watch 
 
  • Lowell Observatory aims to raise funds for historic telescope upkeep
    The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., is hoping a two-month crowd-funding effort will raise enough funds to help restore the Clark Telescope, first built in 1896 and now designated as a National Historic Landmark. Officials are looking to raise at least $256,718 to help with maintenance. In its heyday, the refracting telescope was used to study the moon, Mars and observe the cosmos. Space.com (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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--George Eliot,
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