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Monday, Nov 24th

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Ice Age fossils discovered in L.A. subway construction

Ice Age fossilsAn exploratory dig for Los Angeles' subway extension project has uncovered Ice Age fossils.

The discoveries so far have included geoducks (large clams), sand dollars and digger pine tree cones and seeds, and a rock that "appears to have a sea lion skull within it that is perhaps two million years or more old," according to the Metro Rail's blog.

The expansion of L.A.'s purple line is near the La Brea Tar Pits, where many fossils have been found. The exploratory shaft for the subway route is now 65 feet deep, according to Metro.

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New magnetic material could boost electronics

New magnetic materialA highly sensitive magnetic material that could transform computer hard drives and energy storage devices has been discovered.  The metal bilayer needs only a small shift in temperature to dramatically alter its magnetism - a tremendously useful property in electronic engineering.

"No other material known to man can do this. It's a huge effect. And we can engineer it," said Ivan Schuller, of the University of California, San Diego.

He presented his findings at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver.

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How Liberty University Creates Creationists

Liberty Universitys a Christian professor who has tangled with evangelical institutions over evolution, I am often invited to don the mantle of “heretic.” The invitation typically comes in the form of an interview in which I am asked to respond to questions that will identify me as a liberal-throw-the-bible-under-the-bus lost soul who has no business calling himself a Christian.

I recently received two such requests in a week. One email came from a sophomore at Liberty University, as part of an assignment for the course “Creation Studies 290: History of Life.” Founded by Jerry Fallwell in 1971, Liberty is the largest evangelical university in the world if you include its large population of online students, and America’s largest nonprofit university. “Creation Studies 209” is required of all of Liberty’s 100,000-plus students and claims to provide a “thorough understanding of the creation-evolution controversy,” and “draws upon knowledge from religion, science, philosophy and history.”

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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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