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Ocean discovered on Saturn's moon may be best place to look for alien life

Saturn moveResearchers have discovered a deep saltwater ocean on one of the many small moons that orbit Saturn, leading scientists to conclude it is the most likely place in the solar system for extraterrestrial life to be found.

Gravitational field measurements taken by Nasa's Cassini space probe revealed that a 10km-deep ocean of water, larger than Lake Superior, lurks beneath the icy surface of Enceladus at the moon's south pole.

David Stevenson, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said the body of water was so large it "may extend halfway or more towards the equator in every direction. It might even extend all the way to the north."

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After more than a century, a jewel of ocean research targeted for closure

Pivers IslandFor more than a century, federal scientists have worked on Pivers Island near the historic town of Beaufort, N.C., and the beaches of Emerald Isle studying the ocean, and the fish, turtles and dolphins of its sea grass estuaries and rocky reefs.

Surrounded by three university labs, it’s one of a handful of oceanography hubs in the nation and the only government research center between New Jersey and Miami studying Atlantic fish populations.

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Scientists offer new 360-degree glimpse of the Milky Way galaxy

new milky way imagesIn creating a zoomable, 360-degree portrait of the Milk Way galaxy, University of Wisconsin scientists have offered new insight into the structure and contents of the spiral star system.

To create the holistic portrait, Wisconsin astronomers pieced together 2 million cosmic images collected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The team unveiled their impressive galactic collage today at a TED conference in Vancouver.

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Scientists see 'fingerprint' of Big Bang

Big Bang fingerprintA long held belief by scientists that the universe began to rapidly expand at the dawn of time may have been confirmed by a telescope that UC San Diego helped build at the South Pole to study the earliest moments of the cosmos.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced Monday that the BICEP 2 telescope might have detected the aftermath of the “cosmic inflation” that they think occurred just after the universe arose 13.8 billion years ago in the so-called Big Bang.

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How old is sonar? Fossilized whale skull puts it at over 32 million years.

cotylocara maceio

Sperm whales do it. Dolphins do it. Orcas do it. And now, researchers have unveiled the fossilized skull of a 28-million-year-old marine mammal that did it too – used sound to find its next meal or swim safely through turbid waters.

The creature, Cotylocara macei, is the earliest known cetacean to show skeletal evidence for a natural form of sonar, according to a research team reporting the results in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

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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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