Sci/tech

On Antarctic base, life is communal
March 28, 2008 07:15 AM - Reuters

MARAMBIO BASE, Antarctica (Reuters) - Argentina's base on Antarctica is more like a commune than a barracks. The 36 members of the Argentine Air Force stationed here all eat the same food, take turns washing dishes and clean their own clothing, regardless of rank.

Australian farmer finds mystery space junk
March 28, 2008 12:57 AM - Reuters

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A cattle farmer in Australia's remote northern outback on Friday said he had found a giant ball of twisted metal, which he believes is space junk from a rocket used to launch communications satellites. Farmer James Stirton found the odd-shaped ball last year on his 40,000 hectare property, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) west of the northern Queensland state capital of Brisbane.

Green Towers In Malaysia Modeled After Fleet Of Ships
March 27, 2008 09:49 AM - , MetaEfficient

These unusual, onion-shaped towers are designed for Precinct 4, or the Putrajaya waterfront in Malaysia (30 kilometers south of Kuala Kumpur). The design, by Studio Nicoletti Associati, was inspired by ship sails and traditional Islamic architecture. The towers are efficient and green: they are permeable structures with terraces, sunshades, natural ventilation and integrated green space.

Neanderthals wore make-up and liked to chat
March 27, 2008 09:33 AM - New Scientist

Could Neanderthals speak? The answer may depend on whether they used make-up. Francesco d'Errico, an archaeologist from the University of Bordeaux, France, has found crafted lumps of pigment – essentially crayons – left behind by Neanderthals across Europe.

Ingredients for life found on strange Saturn moon
March 27, 2008 07:59 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The basic ingredients for life -- warmth, water and organic chemicals -- are in place on Saturn's small moon Enceladus, scientists said on Wednesday in detailing the content of huge plumes erupting off its surface. The scientists described observations made by the Cassini spacecraft when it flew over the surface of Enceladus on March 12 as part of an ongoing exploration of Saturn and its moons.

Dinosaur fossil found on bus in Peru
March 26, 2008 09:43 AM - Reuters

AREQUIPA, Peru (Reuters) - Officials found the fossil of a giant dinosaur jawbone while investigating a suspicious package on a bus in the mountains of Peru on Tuesday. The fossil, weighing some 19 pounds, was found in the cargo hold of the bus, which was headed for the capital of Lima, and had been sent on the bus company's package service.

Living fossil still calls Australia home
March 26, 2008 09:43 AM - Public Library of Science

They are separated by a vast ocean and by millions of years, but tiny prehistoric bones found on an Australian farm have been directly linked to a strange and secretive little animal that lives today in the southern rainforests of South America. The fossilised ankle and ear bones are those of Australia's earliest known marsupial, Djarthia, a primitive mouse-like creature that lived 55 million years ago. It is a kind of Australian Eve, possibly the mother of all the continent's unusual pouched mammals, such as kangaroos, koalas, possums and wombats.

Cheap Beet Pulp Turned Into Value-Added Plastics Ingredient
March 25, 2008 09:41 AM - US Department of Agriculture

The pulp is a fiber-rich byproduct of sucrose extraction procedures used by sugar beet processors. Most of the 40 million tons of U.S. sugar beet pulp generated each year is used as an inexpensive livestock feed or pet-food ingredient. But ARS chemists Victoria Finkenstadt and LinShu Liu aim to breathe new economic life into the pulp.

Tibet's Lithium
March 25, 2008 09:38 AM - , Private Landowner Network

As of the end of 2005 there were something like 2 billion cell phones in service worldwide. Certainly there are more than that now. Without lithium batteries cell phones would be a completely different animal. Bigger and heavier, you wouldn’t be stuffing one into a pant’s pocket. Now that the standard is set the cell phone industry is reliant on lithium for its existence.

Ants Are Experienced Fungus Farmers
March 25, 2008 08:46 AM - Smithsonian

Entomologists Ted Schultz and Seán Brady at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have been providing new insight into the agricultural abilities of ants and how these abilities have evolved throughout time. Using DNA sequencing, the scientists were able to construct an "evolutionary tree" of fungus-growing ants, which revealed a single pioneering ancestor that discovered agriculture approximately 50 million years ago. In the past 25 million years, four different specialized agricultural systems have evolved, leading to the most recently evolved and best-known fungus-growing ant species--"leaf-cutter ants."

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