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Astronomers hear 'death cry' of star shredded by black hole

Death dry of starA team of astronomers has detected the "death cry" of a star being devoured by a supermassive black hole. The black hole had been sitting quietly -- almost lying in wait, as it were -- until its gravity reached out and shredded a passing star, pulling the star into its death grip and causing it to emit a characteristic signal.

"You can think of it as hearing the star scream as it gets devoured, if you like," said astronomer Jon Miller of the University of Michigan, lead author of a report appearing in Science Express.

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First spiral galaxy in early Universe stuns astronomers

First spiral galaxy foundAstronomers have spotted the earliest known spiral galaxy, dating to just three billion years after the Big Bang. Theories of galaxy formation held that the Universe was still too chaotic a place to allow such a perfectly formed or "grand-design" spiral to form.

It should take far longer for gravity to bring matter into thin, neat discs. But a team reporting in Nature says the galaxy BX442 got the gravitational "kick" it needed to form a spiral from a smaller "dwarf galaxy" orbiting it.

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Dark Matter Filament Finally Found

Dark matter filamentEveryone is talking about the recent Higgs boson announcement by the scientists at CERN, but another significant scientific discovery was revealed this week as well. In a study published online in the journal

Nature on Wednesday, scientists show that they have successfully found the first dark matter filament. Dark matter does not emit or absorb light or electromagnetic radiation at a detectable level. This essentially makes it invisible.

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Era of chimp research ends at controversial Maryland lab

Chimp research ends in Maryland labJust four chimps remain at this controversial research facility near Interstate 270 in Rockville. Called Bioqual, the company’s 30-year run of chimpanzee research is ending, victim of a historic shift away from using apes in medical experiments.

On Monday morning, a truck hauled six chimps from Bioqual. Last week, five others were removed. The last four, including Tiffany and Torian, will depart later this summer.

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Twisted light could let you download 70 DVDs per second

Twisted lightTwisted light beams have opened the door for wireless communication 85,000 times faster than broadband Internet speeds. The breakthrough could allow NASA missions or military space satellites to exchange data at ultrahigh speeds.

Lab tests have shown how twisted laser beams can transmit data at speeds up to 2.56 terabits per second — roughly the equivalent of beaming 70 DVDs worth of data in a single second through free space. Such speed easily put broadband Internet's 30 megabits per second to shame.

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New findings could rewrite scientists' model of how universe hangs together

Super collider discoveryThe reigning theory of particle physics may be flawed, according to new evidence that a subatomic particle decays in a certain way more often than it should, scientists announced.

This theory, called the Standard Model, is the best handbook scientists have to describe the tiny bits of matter that make up the universe. But many physicists suspect the Standard Model has some holes in it, and findings like this may point to where those holes are hiding.

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Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey predicts end is near on debate over evolution

Richard LeakyRichard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history. Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.  Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it.”

“If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it’s solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive,” Leakey says, “then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.”

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