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Wednesday, Apr 01st

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Much Rests On The Enhanced Large Hadron Collider

hadron colliderGet ready to look at the universe through a new window.

Later this month, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, the behemoth particle accelerator operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), will be back in action after a two-year hiatus.

The pause was intentional, giving technicians and engineers time to ramp up the collision energy by almost a factor of two. In particle collisions, the higher the energy, the bigger the payoff, as the energy of the colliding particles gets translated into the masses of the debris, following the E=mc2 prescription.

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St. Patrick's Day Solar Storm Bombards Earth, Sparks Auroras

solar stormsA massive solar storm is bombarding Earth now, and it could super-charge the northern lights to offer a better chance of seeing dancing green auroras just in time for St. Patrick's Day, weather permitting.

The surprisingly strong solar storm — ranked as a G4 geomagnetic storm by NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center — could trigger brilliant auroras for people in dark areas as far south as Tennessee tonight (March 17), if the space storm continues. The storm began at about 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) today.

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One of Saturn's moons might have warm enough water for life, research shows

enceladusIn 2004, Cassini, the largest interplanetary spacecraft ever launched by NASA, arrived in orbit around Saturn. Since then, it's sent back oodles of information about the planet and some of its attendant moons. Now, thanks to the spacecraft, scientists believe that Saturn's moon Enceladus might have never-before-confirmed thermal activity on its ocean floor which could make the conditions right for life.

"Enceladus may even represent a very common habitat in the galaxy: icy moons around giant gas planets, located well beyond the 'habitable zone' of a star, but still able to maintain liquid water below their icy surface," said Nicolas Altobelli, in a statement. Altobelli is the Cassini project scientist from the European Space Agency.

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Milky Way isn't a flat disk, it's corrugated

Milky way corrugatedAccording to a new study by a team of international astronomers, the Milky Way's galactic disk resembles the undulating ripples seen after a pebble is tossed into a pond. In other words, it's not flat -- it's corrugated, like a steel roof.

The study, led by Heidi Jo Newberg, an astronomer at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., is a reinterpretation of data collected as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The 2012 survey helped astronomers locate a ring of stars, existing just off the plane of the Milk Way's disk.

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Nasa's Dawn probe achieves orbit around Ceres

CeresThe US space agency's Dawn probe has gone into orbit around Ceres, the largest object in the Solar System between Mars and Jupiter.

A signal from the satellite confirming its status was received by ground stations at 13:36 GMT.  Ceres is the first of the dwarf planets to be visited by a spacecraft.  Scientists hope to glean information from the object that can tell them about the Solar System's beginnings, four and a half billion years ago.

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Jaw bone discovered in Ethiopia is oldest known human lineage remains

jaw bone oldest homo fossilA lower jaw bone and five teeth discovered on a hillside in Ethiopia are the oldest remains ever found that belong to the genus Homo, the lineage that ultimately led to modern humans.

Fossil hunters spotted the jaw poking out of a rocky slope in the dry and dusty Afar region of the country about 250 miles from Addis Ababa.

The US-led research team believes the individual lived about 2.8m years ago, when the now parched landscape was open grassland and shrubs nourished by tree-lined rivers and wetlands.

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UK scientists work out weight of Sophie the Stegosaurus

StegosaurusScientists at a British museum have worked out the living weight of Sophie, one of the world's most complete Stegosaurus skeletons.

London's Natural History Museum said Tuesday that Sophie, a young adult when it died around 150 million years ago, weighed around 1.6 tons (1,600 kilograms) and its body mass was about the same size as a small rhinoceros.

The scientists worked out the dinosaur's body mass after creating a 3-D digital version of its skeleton, calculating the volume of flesh around the bones, and comparing the data with information from similar-sized modern animals.

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