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Tuesday, Sep 30th

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'Super-Earths' orbit nearby stars

Planet-hunters have discovered two "super-Earths" orbiting two nearby Sun-like stars. These rocky planets are larger than the Earth but much smaller than ice giants such as Uranus and Neptune.

Scientists say the discoveries are a step towards finding potentially habitable planets - smaller planets that are comparable to the Earth. Details of the new planets are described in two papers in the Astrophysical Journal.

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Horse genome unlocked by science

The genome of a domestic horse has been successfully sequenced by an international team of researchers. The work, published in the journal Science, may shed light on how horses were domesticated.

It also reveals similarities between the horse and other placental mammals, such as bovids - the hoofed group including goats, bison and cattle. The authors also found horses share much of their DNA with humans, which could have implications for medicine. Horses suffer from more than 90 hereditary diseases that show similarities to those in humans.

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Mobile phone users cannot walk in straight line

People chatting on mobile phones are oblivious to their surroundings and can pose a risk to themselves and others, scientists have claimed. Researchers made the discovery by watching the movements of hundreds of people as they crossed a university campus.

They then got a clown to ride a unicycle around the campus square and asked how many phone users spotted him as they walked by. They found that those that used mobile phones meandered randomly and failed to ackowledge other pedesterians. More than two-thirds also failed to notice the clown, even though he wore a purple and yellow shirt, outsized shoes and a giant red nose.

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Europeans find 32 new planets outside solar system

European astronomers have found 32 new planets outside our solar system, adding evidence to the theory that the universe has many places where life could develop.

Scientists using the European Southern Observatory telescope didn't find any planets quite the size of Earth or any that seemed habitable or even unusual. But their announcement increased the number of planets discovered outside the solar system to more than 400. Six of the newly found planets are several times bigger than Earth, increasing the population of so-called super-Earths by more than 30 percent.

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Glimpses of Solar System's edge

The first results from Nasa's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (Ibex) spacecraft have shown unexpected features at our Solar System's edge.

Ibex was launched nearly one year ago to map the heliosphere, the region of space defined by the extent of our Sun's solar wind. Ibex's first glimpses show that the heliosphere is not shaped as many astronomers have believed. A series of papers in the journal Science outlines the results.

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Smithsonian to Open Hall Dedicated to Story of Human Evolution

The National Museum of Natural History announced Wednesday that it is dedicating a new hall to the story of human evolution, giving emphasis not only to how we became humans but how changes in the natural world affected human development.

The Hall of Human Origins, tracing a 6 million-year history, is scheduled to open March 17 -- 100 years to the day that the museum opened. "Humans evolved over millions of years in response to a changing world," said Rick Potts, the Smithsonian's director of the Human Origins Program and an internationally known anthropologist.

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Italian scientists claim to debunk Shroud of Turin

Scientists have reproduced the Shroud of Turin— revered as the cloth that covered Jesus in the tomb — and say the experiment proves the relic was man-made, a group of Italian debunkers claimed Monday.

The shroud bears the figure of a crucified man, complete with blood seeping out of nailed hands and feet, and believers say Christ's image was recorded on the linen fibers at the time of his resurrection.

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