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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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NASA says it's very close to finding alien life

alien lifeAt a panel discussion on the search for alien life, held this week at NASA's headquarters in Washington, the agency's top scientists said they're getting close.

NASA scientists were joined by leading figures in the fields of astronomy, physics and planetary sciences.

"We believe we're very, very close in terms of technology and science to actually finding the other Earth and our chance to find signs of life on another world," Sara Seager, a physicist at MIT and recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, told a packed audience on Monday.

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DNA testing proves the Yeti is actually a prehistoric polar bear, scientist says

Yetil. That means the Abominable Snowman might be an ancient polar bear.

The Yeti is real — but it may be more bear than humanoid, a new study says.  A British scientist used DNA to determine that hair allegedly from the Himalayas' Yeti actually belongs to an ancient bear species experts believed was long extinct.

Oxford University researcher Bryan Sykes and his team published their work this week, NBC News reported.

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Nasa launches satellite to track CO2 in the atmosphere

NASA satelliteA rocket carrying a Nasa satellite lit up the pre-dawn skies Wednesday on a mission to track atmospheric carbon dioxide, the chief culprit behind global warming.

The Delta 2 rocket blasted off from California at 2.56 am and released the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite in low-earth orbit 56 minutes later, bringing relief to mission officials who lost a similar spacecraft five years ago.

The flight was "a perfect ride into space," said Ralph Basilio, the OCO-2 project manager, at a post-launch press conference.

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Astronomers spot diamond the size of Earth

Earth sized diamons-A newly observed white dwarf star may be the coldest ever discovered. The dead star is so cold, in fact, astronomers believe its carbon has crystalized, making it the largest diamond ever found -- about the same size as Earth.

Adding to its litany of superlatives, the diamond of a star is also one of the faintest ever discovered. It may sparkle up close, but it's invisible to humans. The only reason it was spotted is because it has a much more conspicuous orbital companion -- a pulsar formed from a supernova that emitted great streams of radio waves out into the cosmos.

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Bachelor party discovers 3-million-year-old stegomastodon skull fossil

Fossil find in new mexicoA group of friends in New Mexico didn't set out to discover an ancient stegomastodon skull -- or a fossil of any kind. They were just celebrating their friend's waning days of bachelorhood by taking a hike through Elephant Butte Lake State Park, some 150 miles outside of Albuquerque, N.M.

But along the way, the young men spotted a bone sticking out of the ground. They gathered around it and began digging. The bone turned out to be a tusk, and as they dug further they unearthed a giant elephant-like skull.

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Massive 'ocean' found under Earth's surface

ocean found under surfaceScientists have found evidence of a huge underground reservoir containing up to three times as much water as on the entirety of Earth’s surface and theorized to be the source for all of the world’s oceans.

The new evidence, published Friday in the journal Science, suggests that melting rocks, including those containing the water-rich mineral ringwoodite, may exist far deeper below the Earth's surface. The discovery suggests to researchers that most of the Earth’s water slowly seeped out from within, as opposed to arriving on ice-bearing comets, a theory many scientists have posited.

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Chimps outsmart humans at simple strategy games

Chimps outsmart humansComplex cognitive reasoning skills don't always win out in the game of life, or in basic strategy games like the Inspection Game, the computer game chimpanzees recently outperformed their competitors in during a Caltech study.

The Inspection Game is really just a simple digital version of hide-and-go-seek. Two players (in this case, either a pair of chimps or a pair of humans) sit back to back, each facing their own computer screen. The game begins with each competitor pushing a circle on the screen and then selecting one of two blue boxes on the either side (right or left) of the screen.

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