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February 13, 2013
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  Top Story 
  • Volcanoes weakened dino population before asteroid, theory says
    A volatile environment rife with volcanic eruptions may have been killing off dinosaurs long before the arrival of the asteroid that wiped out the rest, according to research published in the journal Science. Evidence suggests that huge volcanic eruptions in India caused major climate change and a tough environment for dinosaurs to survive. In addition, using a precise dating technique on rocks found in Haiti, scientists were able to put the asteroid's impact at the exact date of the extinction, suggesting that the asteroid was the "coup de grace" for the creatures. National Geographic News (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Science in the News 
  • New research suggests appendix may serve a function
    The appendix, long believed to serve no purpose, has evolved at least 32 times in mammals, suggesting that the organ may still play a role in our bodily functions when a serious infection strikes. The study, published in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol, analyzed the diets of 361 mammals, plotting the data on a mammalian evolutionary tree to track the correlation between the appendix and a mammal's change in diet. Scientists speculate the appendix may serve as a "safe house" for beneficial bacteria to hide in if our bodies suffer a major infection, but other experts argue more studies are needed to reach a final conclusion. Now blog (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Study: Stone Age women suffered as violent deaths as men
    New evidence suggests women farmers in the Stone Age weren't spared from the violence that killed many of their male counterparts, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland analyzed 478 skulls collected from Sweden and Denmark dating between 3900 and 1700 B.C. and found that women were just as likely as men to have suffered lethal blows to the head, likely because women were not able to fight back as well as men during the violent raids and conflicts of the time. (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Organic matter in permafrost releases more carbon dioxide in the sun
    Organic matter trapped within layers of melting permafrost changes into carbon dioxide at a faster rate when exposed to sunlight, according to a report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The report found that the conversion to carbon dioxide happened 40% faster when the organic matter was exposed to sunlight. "What we can say now is that regardless of how fast the thawing of the Arctic permafrost occurs, the conversion of this soil carbon to carbon dioxide and its release into the atmosphere will be faster than we previously thought," said study co-author George Kling. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)/Science Now blog (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Huge black holes eat little but grow fast, study finds
    Supermassive black holes at the center of many galaxies may be growing much faster than previously believed, growth that is mostly sustained by sucking in small amounts of gas and other space matter. The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, used computer simulations to analyze how black holes grow in spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way. The findings also confirm that gigantic space collisions are only responsible for a small portion of black-hole growth. (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Fast-moving stars may unlock secrets to center of the Milky Way
    Six stars discovered racing through space may have come from the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, a finding that could help astronomers learn how stars form from the center of our galaxy and estimate the size of the black hole. The discovery is the first evidence of "hypervelocity stars" -- whose masses are similar to our sun's -- which are believed to form when a black hole swallows a star and ejects its twin. "These are incredibly fast-moving objects that are actually gravitationally unbound to the Milky Way," study author Keith Hawkins said at the American Astronomical Society meeting last month. (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Bio-scaffold may allow for regrowth of broken bones
    Researchers from the U.K. used a method called "solvent blending" to create a degradable, plastic bio-scaffold that can be inserted into broken bones to induce them to regrow. The scaffold lets blood flow through it, which in turn allows stem cells from the bone marrow that are in the blood to attach to the scaffold and generate new bone tissue. Researchers are preparing to test the scaffold in human trials. The findings were published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Medical News Today (2/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Research Policy Regulations 
  • Global committee wants to guide U.N. high-seas policy
    The independent Global Ocean Commission, a newly formed international group of scientists and other leaders, is hoping to provide updated advice to the United Nations on how to handle the high seas, which lie outside national jurisdictions. The U.N.'s Convention on the Law of the Sea has handled the issue of high seas since 1994, but the commission says the laws are outdated and don't adequately address threats such as climate change and overfishing. "The high seas are owned by everyone but their governance and management are inadequate," said José María Figueres, a founding member of the commission. Insider blog (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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