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Thursday, May 05th

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World's most powerful laser to tear apart the vacuum of space

World's most powerful laserDue to follow in the footsteps of the Large Hadron Collider, the latest "big science" experiment being proposed by physicists will see the world's most powerful laser being constructed.

Capable of producing a beam of light so intense that it would be equivalent to the power received by the Earth from the sun focused onto a speck smaller than a tip of a pin, scientists claim it could allow them boil the very fabric of space – the vacuum.

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Bones From The Badlands Belong To New Dinosaur

New raptor found in UtahResearchers made quite a find this week in Utah: a new species of raptor dinosaur. The ancient creature, a meat-eater, was small and fast, with talon-like toes.

"These animals were incredibly fast, incredibly intelligent and some of them wielded very significant claws and sharp teeth," Dr. Lindsay Zanno of the New University of Wisconsin tells NPR's Scott Simon. Zanno led the dig team that made the discovery.

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Here Come The Suns: New Planet Orbits Two Stars

Planet orbits two sunsA trillion is a huge number — when you're talking dollars or euros. But a trillion miles is not so much in the cosmic scheme of things. Astronomers say they've now found a planet that orbits two suns a mere thousand trillion miles from here. It's yet another example of a weird solar system being discovered around nearby stars.

Two years ago, NASA launched the Kepler observatory to look for Earth-like planets beyond our own solar system. It has found more than 1,000 apparent planets around distant suns.

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Fifty New Planets Found—Largest Haul Yet

50 new planets foundFifty new alien worlds, including 16 "super Earths," have been found—the largest extrasolar planet haul announced at one time, astronomers say. The discoveries bring the total number of known extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, to 645.

"The harvest of discoveries ... has exceeded all expectations, and includes an exceptionally rich population of super-Earths and Neptune-type planets hosted by stars very similar to our sun," study leader Michel Mayor, an astronomer at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, said in a statement.

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New Fossils May Redraw Human Family Tree

New fossil An apelike creature with human features, whose fossil bones were discovered recently in a South African cave, is the most plausible known ancestor of archaic and modern humans, the scientists who discovered the fossils say.

The claim, if accepted, would radically redraw the present version of the human family tree, placing the new fossil species in the center. The new species, called Australopithecus sediba, would dislodge Homo habilis, the famous tool-making fossil found by Louis and Mary Leakey, as the immediate human ancestor.

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NASA launches Web tool to explore the solar system

solar systemWant to explore the solar system and follow NASA space missions in real time?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is giving the public the chance to do just that through a new Internet-based tool called Eyes on the Solar System. The space agency said the tool combines video-game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft as they explore the cosmos.

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Scientists Create World's First Molecule-Sized Electric Motor

Molecule sized motorResearchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts have created the world's smallest electric motor, the size of a single molecule, recently publishing the results in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology. Although applications for the nanoscale device are a long way off, the achievement could one day lead to nanoscale machines capable of performing surgery on a single cell, for instance.

The motor is made of a single molecule of butyl methyl sulfide—basically a sulfur molecule with two "arms" made of carbon and hydrogen atoms (the yellow-and-green dots in the middle of the photo to the left).

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