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Tuesday, Jul 22nd

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Rinderpest virus has been wiped out, scientists say

Rinderpest virus has been wiped outScientists working for the UN say that they have eradicated a virus which can be deadly to cattle. If confirmed, rinderpest would become only the second viral disease - after smallpox - to have been eliminated by humans.

Rinderpest was once prevalent in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said that it will now suspend its efforts to track and eliminate the virus.

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Fossils of earliest land plants discovered in Argentina

Earliest plant fossils discoveredThe earliest plants to have colonised land have been found in Argentina. The discovery puts back by 10 million years the colonisation of land by plants, and suggests that a diversity of land plants had evolved by 472 million years ago.

The newly found plants are liverworts, very simple plants that lack stems or roots, scientists report in the journal the New Phytologist. That confirms liverworts are likely to be the ancestors of all land plants.

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Possible Cause of Bee Die-Off Is Found

Possible Cause of Bee Die-Off Is FoundIt has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees? Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two. A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

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Scientists overcome hurdles to stem cell alternatives

stem cellsScientists have invented an efficient way to produce apparently safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, a long-sought step toward bypassing the moral morass surrounding one of the most promising fields in medicine.

A team of researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston published a series of experiments Thursday showing that synthetic biological signals can quickly reprogram ordinary skin cells into entities that appear virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the same strategy can then turn those cells into ones that could be used for transplants.

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Not too hot, not too cold: could the 'Goldilocks' planet support life?

Could 'Goldilocks' planet support life?The search for a faraway planet that could support life has found the most promising candidate to date, in the form of a distant world some 120,000 billion miles away from Earth.

Scientists believe that the planet is made of rock, like the Earth, and sits in the "Goldilocks zone" of its sun, where it is neither too hot nor too cold for water to exist in liquid form – widely believed to be an essential precondition for life to evolve.

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Winds could explain Biblical parting of the Red Sea

Winds could explain Biblical parting of the Red SeaComputer simulations show how the movement of wind could have parted the waters of the Red Sea The parting of the Red Sea, as described in the Bible, could have been a phenomenon caused by strong winds, according to new computer simulations.

The account in the Book of Exodus describes how the waters of the sea parted, allowing the Israelites to flee their Egyptian pursuers. Simulations by US scientists show how the movement of wind could have opened up a land bridge at one location.

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Tightened muzzle on scientists is 'Orwellian'

Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of VictoriaThe Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need "pre-approval" from Minister Christian Paradis' office to speak with journalists. Their "media lines" also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

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