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Scientists infuse 'life' into inanimate compounds

blue violet light

Scientists have infused "life" into inanimate chemical compounds by flashing a blue-violet light that prompted them to assemble themselves into a crystal.

The feat, described in a study published online Thursday by the journal Science, marks an important step toward creating "active" materials that can repair themselves, such as a smartphone screen that fixes its own cracks or a Kevlar vest that fills a hole made by a bullet, experts said.

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Black hole collision may have irradiated Earth in eighth century

Earth irradiated in 8th centuryA study last year found unusually high levels of the isotope carbon-14 in ancient rings of Japanese cedar trees and a corresponding spike in beryllium-10 in Antarctic ice.

The readings were traced back to a point in AD 774 or 775, suggesting that during that period the Earth was hit by an intense burst of radiation, but researchers were initially unable to determine its cause.

Now a separate team of astronomers have suggested it could have been due to the collision of two compact stellar remnants such as black holes, neutron stars or white dwarfs.

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Federal scientists can again research gun violence

Gun violence researchMark Rosenberg and his colleagues were forced to stop their work at the point of a gun — or at least at the insistence of National Rifle Association.

In 1996, Rosenberg was director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). It was then that Congress, at the behest of the National Rifle Association, stopped federally funded gun-related research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes NCIPC.

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Astronomers Reckon There Are 17 Billion Earth-Size Planets in Our Galaxy Alone

Milky Way GalaxyIn 1750, British astronomer Thomas Wright published a book An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe with a diagram showing the stars of our Milky Way, each surrounded by orbiting planets.

But there was no evidence to support his view. "At that point in history," Samuel Arbesman writes in his book The Half-Life of Facts, "this notion was nothing more than a hope, and a somewhat sacrilegious one at that. It was no more than a logical deduction derived from the Copernican notion that our place in the universe need not be a particularly privileged one."

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Astronomers report largest structure in universe.

Largest structure in universeWhat could be the largest structure yet seen in the observable universe has emerged from data taken during a 12-year survey of the night sky.

The discovery is an apparent cluster of quasars some 4 billion light-years across. If it holds up to further scrutiny, it could challenge a long-held assumption that at the cosmos's largest scales, the physical processes at work and the distribution of matter and energy are the same, regardless of an observer's location.

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Statewide quake in California may be possible after all

San Andreas faultFor decades, scientists have assumed the central portion of California's San Andreas fault acts as a barrier that prevents a big quake in the southern part of the state from spreading to the north, and vice versa. As a result, a mega-quake that could be felt from San Diego to San Francisco was widely considered impossible.

But that key fault segment might not serve as a barrier in all cases, researchers wrote Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Nature.

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Study contends Grand Canyon as old as dinosaur era

Grand CanyonThe awe-inspiring Grand Canyon was probably carved about 70 million years ago, much earlier than thought, a provocative new study suggests - so early that dinosaurs might have roamed near this natural wonder.

Using a new dating tool, a team of scientists came up with a different age for the gorge's western section, challenging conventional wisdom that much of the canyon was scoured by the mighty Colorado River in the last 5 million to 6 million years.

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