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At 4.4 Billion Years Old, Oz Crystals Confirmed As World's Oldest

oz crystalScientists have used a powerful new technique to prove that some tiny crystals found in Western Australia are indeed the oldest known materials formed on Earth.  Back in 2001, scientists reported that one of the zircon crystals was about 4.4 billion years old — so old that not everyone believed it.

"There have been challenges, because nothing in science goes without being questioned. It always has to be proven," says , a geochemist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The crystals formed just tens of millions of years after an early proto-Earth was melted by a violent impact with a Mars-sized object. The crash created the moon and turned our young planet into a red ball of molten rock.

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African fossil reveals clues to evolution of ape-human lineage

fossil findScientists say evidence of an African environment inhabited by an ancient ape species provides insights into the early diversification of the ape-human lineage.

Knowledge of the environment inhabited by the early ape Proconsul can help in understanding and interpreting the connection between habitat preferences and that diversification, they said.

Proconsul and a primate relative, Dendropithecus, inhabited "a widespread, dense, multistoried, closed canopy" forest on Rusinga Island in Kenya, the researchers report in the journal Nature Communications.

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1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth, Survey Says

Americans think sun orbits earthA quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the .

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the

To the question "Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth," 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.

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Fossil captures moment of live birth in ancient marine reptile

Fossil birth evidenceA fossil of a giant marine reptile known as an ichthyosaur may show evidence of the oldest live reptilian birth ever seen, U.S. paleontologists say.

The partial fossil skeleton of an ichthyosaur, giant marine reptiles that evolved from land reptiles and moved to the water, was recovered in China and may show a live birth, Ryosuke Motani from the University of California, Davis, said.

The maternal skeleton was associated with three embryos and neonates: one inside the mother, another exiting the pelvis -- with half the body still inside the mother -- and the third outside of the mother, Motani and colleagues report in the journal PLoS ONE.

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Years of observation of distant galaxy provide dramatic new image

NASA imagesNASA says its Chandra X-ray Observatory has revisited a galaxy 12 million light years from Earth with a giant jet blasting away from a supermassive black hole.

Just weeks after NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory began operations in 1999, the telescope pointed at Centaurus A, and has periodically returned its attention to the object, gathering more data each time.

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Researchers turn adult cells back into stem cells

adult cells to stem cellsIn a step that has implications for stem cell research, human biology and the treatment of disease, researchers in Japan and at Harvard University have managed to turn adult cells back into flexible stem cells without changing their DNA.

The researchers discovered that they could put cells in various challenging circumstances – including in acidic solutions and under physical pressure – and turn mature blood cells into cells that were capable of turning into virtually any cell in the body.

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Fla. space center home to secret spacecraft

KENNEDY SPACE cENTERThe Kennedy Space Center is going to be the testing site for a top-secret Air Force space plane. Boeing - the contractor working on the spacecraft - announced Friday that it will be converting a former space shuttle building for the X-37B orbital test vehicle program.

An undisclosed number of workers will recover, refurbish and relaunch the 29-foot-long unmanned spacecraft.

The Air Force launched the most recent flight of the unmanned spacecraft from Florida's Space Coast more than a year ago.

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