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Monday, Dec 22nd

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Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to inventors of blue LEDs

Shuji NakamuraOver 20 years after their invention, the team of Japanese scientists behind blue colored light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, has been recognized with the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Found in everything from light bulbs to televisions to cellphones, LEDs are typically clustered in trios of red, blue and green. While the invention of red and green LEDs came easy by comparison, blue LEDs, the fundamentally necessary final ingredient to white-emitting energy efficient lights.

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3 win medicine Nobel for discovering brain's GPS

Nobel winnersA U.S.-British scientist and a Norwegian husband-and-wife research team won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for discovering the brain's navigation system — the inner GPS that helps us find our way in the world — a revelation that could lead to advances in diagnosing Alzheimer's.

The research by John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser represents a "paradigm shift" in neuroscience that could help researchers understand the sometimes severe spatial memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease, the Nobel Assembly said.

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Stephen Hawking admits he is an atheist

Stephen HawkingAstrophysicist Stephen Hawking doesn't believe in God, but does believe aliens and space travel are the key to the survival of the species.

In an interview with Spanish paper El Mundo, Hawking spoke on his theories behind the origin of the universe and admitted he was an atheist as his theories do not support the world being created by a deity. Hawking was attending the Starmus festival in the Canary Islands where he and his colleagues gathered for lectures and tours.

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Solar storm heading for Earth

solar flareA "strong" solar flare that launched off the sun Wednesday afternoon could cause some fluctuations in Earth's power grid and slight disturbances in satellites and radio transmissions on Friday and Saturday.

Major disruptions are not expected, even though the flare was classified as an "X-class" flare, which is at the high end of the solar flare scale. Wednesday's flare followed a weaker flare late Monday.

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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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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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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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