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China's great space telescope to begin search for alien life

China space teleschopeChina is set to start operating the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, enabling astronomers to probe farther and darker regions of space for the faintest signs of life.

Scheduled to be launched on Sunday, the science mega-project is named after its huge dimensions: the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST.

Built within a valley surrounded by naturally-formed karst hills in China's remote and mountainous southwestern Guizhou province, the FAST radio telescope's huge dish is equal in size to 30 football pitches and was constructed from 4,000 individual metal panels at a cost of around $180m.


Stephen Hawking warns against seeking out aliens in new film

Stephen Hawking“We come in peace” might be the traditional opening gambit for aliens in science fiction, but we should be wary about beaming back a response to any advanced life-forms in real life, Stephen Hawking has warned.

Our first contact from an advanced civilisation could be equivalent to when Native Americans first encountered Christopher Columbus and things “didn’t turn out so well”, he cautioned.


Jurassic 'sea monster' fossil emerges in Scotland

Jurassic 'sea monster' fossilA Jurassic sea monster in all its prehistoric glory has finally re-emerged into the light after 50 years cooped up in a museum storage room in Scotland.

Nicknamed the Storr Lochs Monster, the newly revealed creature is actually an ichthyosaur, a kind of extinct swimming reptile that ruled the waves while the dinosaurs reigned over the land. Over their long history, ichthyosaurs evolved into enormous beasts akin to the whales of their day.

This fossil, though not a giant, is a scientific prize, scientists say. At roughly 170 million years old, it lived during the Middle Jurassic, a somewhat mysterious period for paleontologists.


Cracking an ice cold case: Nearly 3.2 million years ago, Lucy died. Now we know how.

Lucy died 3.2m years agoTalk about cracking a cold case: Nearly 3.2 million years ago, Lucy died. Now we may know how.

Lucy, the iconic human cousin whose skeleton was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, died shortly after she fell out of a tree, according to a new study published Monday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.

More than four decades after her discovery, Lucy remains one of oldest, best and most complete skeletons of any adult, erect-walking hominid, according to John Kappelman, an anthropologist at the University of Texas and the lead author of the study. A hominid is a member of the evolutionary family that includes great apes – such as gorillas, chimps, and orangutans, humans, and their ancestors, some of which are extinct.


Discovery of potentially Earth-like planet Proxima b raises hopes for life

Proxima BThe search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun.

Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called “habitable zone” of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world.


Researchers confirm astronomical nature of ancient Scottish stones

Stonehenge For the first time, researchers have confirmed the astronomical accuracy of Britain's earliest stone structures. According to scientists at the University of Adelaide, the great circles traced the paths of the moon and sun at the time of their construction, 5,000 years ago.

"Nobody before this has ever statistically determined that a single stone circle was constructed with astronomical phenomena in mind -- it was all supposition," Gail Higginbottom, visiting research fellow at Adelaide and leader of the recent research effort, said in a news release.


Chemists unveil cheaper, more efficient carbon capture technology

Carbon technologyA team of scientists in England have found a better way to capture carbon from power plant emissions.

The key to their new and improved technique is patented carbon-derived biomass material called Starbons. Starbons, which was pioneered a decade ago by scientists at the University of York, is made using biomass waste like food peelings and seaweed. Its key attribute is its porosity. Lots of tiny holes allow Starbons to capture lots of CO2.


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