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Thursday, Apr 24th

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Ice Age fossils discovered in L.A. subway construction

Ice Age fossilsAn exploratory dig for Los Angeles' subway extension project has uncovered Ice Age fossils.

The discoveries so far have included geoducks (large clams), sand dollars and digger pine tree cones and seeds, and a rock that "appears to have a sea lion skull within it that is perhaps two million years or more old," according to the Metro Rail's blog.

The expansion of L.A.'s purple line is near the La Brea Tar Pits, where many fossils have been found. The exploratory shaft for the subway route is now 65 feet deep, according to Metro.

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New magnetic material could boost electronics

New magnetic materialA highly sensitive magnetic material that could transform computer hard drives and energy storage devices has been discovered.  The metal bilayer needs only a small shift in temperature to dramatically alter its magnetism - a tremendously useful property in electronic engineering.

"No other material known to man can do this. It's a huge effect. And we can engineer it," said Ivan Schuller, of the University of California, San Diego.

He presented his findings at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver.

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Hackers take control of 300,000 home routers

hackers hit home routersA world-spanning network of hijacked home routers has been uncovered by security researchers.

The network involves more than 300,000 routers in homes and small businesses that have been taken over through loopholes in their core software.
Discovered by researchers at Team Cymru, the network is thought to be one of the biggest involving such devices.

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How Liberty University Creates Creationists

Liberty Universitys a Christian professor who has tangled with evangelical institutions over evolution, I am often invited to don the mantle of “heretic.” The invitation typically comes in the form of an interview in which I am asked to respond to questions that will identify me as a liberal-throw-the-bible-under-the-bus lost soul who has no business calling himself a Christian.

I recently received two such requests in a week. One email came from a sophomore at Liberty University, as part of an assignment for the course “Creation Studies 290: History of Life.” Founded by Jerry Fallwell in 1971, Liberty is the largest evangelical university in the world if you include its large population of online students, and America’s largest nonprofit university. “Creation Studies 209” is required of all of Liberty’s 100,000-plus students and claims to provide a “thorough understanding of the creation-evolution controversy,” and “draws upon knowledge from religion, science, philosophy and history.”

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NASA discovers 715 new planets

NASA discovers 715 planersOur galactic neighborhood just got a lot bigger. NASA on Wednesday announced the discovery of 715 new planets, by far the biggest batch of planets ever unveiled at once.

By way of comparison, about 1,000 planets total had been identified in our galaxy before Wednesday.  Four of those planets are in what NASA calls the "habitable zone," meaning they have the makeup to potentially support life.

The planets, which orbit 305 different stars, were discovered by the Kepler space telescope and were verified using a new technique that scientists expect to make new planetary discoveries more frequent and more detailed.

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Space boulder rocks Moon

space boulder hits moonA space rock has slammed into the Moon, leaving a huge crater and causing a bright and long-lasting explosion that was visible from Earth, scientists said Monday. They said the event could shed light on the risk of similar objects hitting Earth.

Jose Maria Madiedo said Monday that he witnessed the refrigerator-sized meteor smashing into the Moon in what is believed to be the biggest such lunar impact ever recorded.

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At 4.4 Billion Years Old, Oz Crystals Confirmed As World's Oldest

oz crystalScientists have used a powerful new technique to prove that some tiny crystals found in Western Australia are indeed the oldest known materials formed on Earth.  Back in 2001, scientists reported that one of the zircon crystals was about 4.4 billion years old — so old that not everyone believed it.

"There have been challenges, because nothing in science goes without being questioned. It always has to be proven," says , a geochemist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The crystals formed just tens of millions of years after an early proto-Earth was melted by a violent impact with a Mars-sized object. The crash created the moon and turned our young planet into a red ball of molten rock.

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