Science

The sixth mass extinction is coming, and man is to blame

The sixth mass extinction is coming, and man is to blame

If the Pope's ominous warnings weren't enough for you, now scientists are chiming in to blame mankind for an imminent sixth mass extinction on Earth. The research, carried out by scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, takes a conservative approach to extinction rates, but concludes that even then biodiversity is dwindling at a pace far greater than would be natural. Meanwhile, there's a possibility for a turnaround, but the window of opportunity is closing.

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft returns incredible pics of Dione

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft returns incredible pics of Dione

NASA's spacecraft Cassini has returned high-resolution and quite impressive images of Dione, Saturn's moon. The spacecraft took the images during its most recent flyby of the moon (earlier this week), and NASA has made them available as unprocessed RAW images, a more particular selection of which can be found at the CICLOPS website. This isn't the last we'll be getting images of Dione, though, as another flyby will be happening in a couple months with more imaging being planned.

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Philae speaks again: Comet probe “doing very well”

Philae speaks again: Comet probe “doing very well”

The Philae lander has resumed communications with Earth for the second time since the surprise message last Sunday that proved the spacecraft was still functional. Two signals were successfully received today, the European Space Agency (ESA) said, each lasting two minutes and containing 185 packets of data. Although there's no scientific research in among those bytes, Philae has sent back vital information about just how well the distant probe is doing on its unusual comet ride.

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How Silver Ants use hair like NASA’s new heat shield tech

How Silver Ants use hair like NASA’s new heat shield tech

The Saharan Silver Ant is discovered to dissipate heat using shiny silver hairs covering its entire body. Norman Nan Shi, assistant professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, has shown that the hairs of the Saharan Silver Ant act like heat shields, not entirely unlike NASA's space suit materials being developed for use by firefighters here on Earth. These ants live in an environment which can get extremely hot, up to 70°C (158°F). To make due when they need to forage for food, they've developed a rather intense bit of natural resistance, making them as shiny as they are cool.

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NASA’s Europa mission passes first major review

NASA’s Europa mission passes first major review

NASA is hot to explore Europa, which is one of the moons orbiting Jupiter. The reason that Europa is such an interesting place to NASA is because it is believed to be one of the most likely places to find life outside of Earth. NASA has a mission concept for investigating Europa and that plan has successfully passed its first major review by the space agency.

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Wild kangaroos discovered to be lefties

Wild kangaroos discovered to be lefties

Humans and monkeys take note. We might no longer be special when it comes to "true" handedness. Once thought to be a peculiar trait found only in primates, researchers who painstakingly followed kangaroos in the wild and discovered, to their surprise, that they, too, prefer to use a certain hand. Their left hand, to be precise. This discovery, which, of course, still has to be independently confirmed, could open the doors to closer scrutiny of the brains of these marsupials, who are known to bring down drones when annoyed.

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This 3D-printed flute can play new microtones

This 3D-printed flute can play new microtones

3D printing has the opportunity to revolutionize yet another industry, music. We've seen some amazing 3D-printed instruments like this violin from Monad Studios. Now, a research group from the Australian University of Wollongong has created a new type of flute that can play notes that are unreachable on a traditional flute. Nitpicking, but this flute does resemble a traditional recorder more than an orchestral flute. The 3D-printed flute operates on a microtonal scale, which utilizes tuning rations that vary from the traditional Western scale. The microtonal creation allows more opportunities for varied harmonies and pitch.

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Researchers pinpoint major hotspots to curb poaching

Researchers pinpoint major hotspots to curb poaching

Elephant poaching continues to be a big problem despite efforts to battle it, but some recent research might help change that. Ivory that has been seized was genetically analyzed to find out where it originated from. That information was amassed, and the result are a pair of newly published papers showing the biggest hotspots where elephants are poached. The data takes it a step further, though, and also shows how to tackle the problem in a (hopefully) more effective manner than in the past.

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Black Hole measured by ALMA: visualizing 140 million suns

Black Hole measured by ALMA: visualizing 140 million suns

Researchers at SOKENDAI measure the supermassive black hole inside the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097 with ALMA. Inside they've found a mass equivalent to 140 million times our own Sun. Two bits of information are stunning about this particular bit of research. First, that they were able to measure a black hole with the tools they've got onhand. Second, that they were able to calculate the results of this study in just under two hours, leading the way to greater studies inside the capacities of ALMA.

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Pope Francis hurls Catholics into climate argument

Pope Francis hurls Catholics into climate argument

Pope Francis has weighed in on climate change, with the head of the Catholic church demanding his flock take global warming seriously. The lengthy message was released as an Encyclical Letter - a letter issued to bishops - today, in which Pope Francis revealed he had been in discussion with scientists, theologians, and more on topics like water quality, "throwaway culture", loss of biodiversity, and global inequality.

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