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Friday, Oct 31st

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Gazing Afar for Other Earths, and Other Beings

Kepler Observatory seeking other planetsIn a building at NASA’s Ames Research Center here, computers are sifting and resifting the light from 156,000 stars, seeking to find in the flickering of distant suns the first hints that humanity is not alone in the universe. The stars are being monitored by a $600 million satellite observatory named Kepler, whose job is to conduct a kind of Gallup poll of worlds in the cosmos.

On Wednesday, Kepler’s astronomers are scheduled to unveil a closely kept list of 400 stars that are their brightest and best bets so far for harboring planets, some of which could turn out to be the smallest and most Earth-like worlds discovered out there to date. They represent the first glimpse of riches to come in a quest that is as old as the imagination and as new as the iPad.

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Research: Early modern humans left Africa earlier than thought

Early modern humans left Africa earlier than thoughtThe discovery of an ancient stone tool kit in the United Arab Emirates, reported in today's edition of the journal Science, now is raising the possibility that today's modern humans first started leaving Africa earlier than paleontologists previously thought.

The question of when modern humans first started leaving the African continent has been debated since the 1980s. African fossils of modern-looking humans date to about 200,000 years ago, but gene studies of non-Africans suggest that people only left the mother continent by 60,000 years ago.

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Hubble telescope detects the oldest known galaxy

Oldest galaxy foundThe Hubble Space Telescope has detected what scientists believe may be the oldest galaxy ever observed. It is thought the galaxy is more than 13 billion years old and existed 480 million years after the Big Bang.

A Nasa team says this was a period when galaxy formation in the early Universe was going into "overdrive". The image, which has been published in Nature journal, was detected using Hubble's recently installed wide field camera.

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N.R.A. Stymies Firearms Research, Scientists Say

National Rifle AssociationIn the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the familiar questions inevitably resurfaced: Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe? Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths? Do more rigorous background checks make a difference?

The reality is that even these and other basic questions cannot be fully answered, because not enough research has been done. And there is a reason for that. Scientists in the field and former officials with the government agency that used to finance the great bulk of this research agree in saying that the influence of the National Rife Association has all but choked off money for such work.

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Scientists fear kilograms don't weigh as much as they used to

Kilogram may be losing weightWhen is a kilogram not a kilogram? When it starts to weigh less. It came into existence more than two centuries ago and has become the standard unit of weight around the world, from the shopping malls of Europe to the souks of the Middle East, but scientists believe that the reign of the kilo as we know it is about to come to an end.

A group of experts meeting in London today want to redefine the kilogram so that it is no longer based on the mass of a solid cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy that sits beneath three layers of protective glass sealed in a locked vault in Sèvres, France.

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The downfall of science and the rise of intellectual tyranny

The very reputation of so-called "science" has been irreparably damaged by the invocation of the term "science" by GMO lackeys, pesticide pushers, mercury advocates and fluoride poisoners who all claim to have science on their side. It seems that every toxin, contamination and chemical disaster that now infects our planet has been evangelized in the name of "science."

Where "science" used to be highly regarded in the 1950's, today the term is largely exploited by pharmaceutical companies, biotech giants and chemical companies to push their own for-profit agendas. Actual science has little to do with the schemes now being pushed under the veil of science.

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Two Suns? Twin Stars Could Be Visible From Earth By 2012

Twin suns may be comingIt's the ultimate experience for Star Wars fans - staring forlornly off into the distance as twin suns sink into the horizon. Yet it's not just a figment of George Lucas's imagination - twin suns are real. And here's the big news - they could be coming to Earth.

Yes, any day now we see a second sun light up the sky, if only for a matter of weeks. The infamous red super-giant star in Orion’s nebula - Betelgeuse - is predicted to go gangbusters and the impending super-nova may reach Earth before 2012, and when it does, all of our wildest Star Wars dreams will come true.

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