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Robot companion to keep Japan’s astronaut company on 6-month mission

A small humanoid robot that can talk will be sent into space to provide conversational company for a Japanese astronaut on a six-month mission, according to new plans. The miniature robot will arrive at the International Space Station next summer, a few months ahead of astronaut Koichi Wakata, Japan’s Kibo…

Large ice deposits found on planet nearest the sun: NASA

WASHINGTON — Scientists Thursday announced new evidence that Mercury, the planet orbiting nearest the Sun, hosts massive caches of ice and revealed new information on how water reached our solar system’s inner planets. “The new data indicate the water ice in Mercury’s polar regions, if spread over an area the…

Definitive study links polar ice cap melting to climate change

The melting of polar ice caps raised sea levels by nearly half an inch (11 millimeters) over the last two decades, scientists said Thursday, calling it the most definitive measure yet of the impact of climate change. There have been more than 30 previous estimates of whether and how much…

Johnson & Johnson won’t enforce anti-AIDS drug patents in developing world

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday that it would not enforce its patents on its AIDS drug Prezista in the world’s poorest countries and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Offering cost relief to people infected with the HIV virus, J&J said it wanted to assure manufacturers that they can freely produce…

New liquid nitrogen lamp recreates weather inside your home

Swiss designers Micasa Lab have created a swirling liquid-nitrogen weather device to enjoy in the comfort of your own home Following the roaring success of the Barbican’s Rain Room installation, you can now recreate the weather in your own home, thanks to a new lamp by experimental Swiss design studio, Micasa Lab.…

Scientists record most powerful quasar blast ever

US astronomers have detected the most powerful blast from a quasar ever recorded, offering the first proof of important theories about why the universe is shaped the way it is. The beam of energy, detected by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, based in Chile, was at least five…

Texas telescope spots biggest black hole ever observed

PARIS — Astronomers on Wednesday said they had found possibly the biggest black hole ever observed, a leviathan with a mass 17 billion times that of the Sun, brooding at the heart of a distant galaxy. The black hole is as unexpected as it is vast, for it accounts for…

Scientists make major progress in decoding wheat genome

A consortium of scientists said Wednesday they had made major progress in deciphering the genome of bread wheat, a vital crop whose DNA is notoriously complex. Publishing in the journal Nature, they said they had analysed between 94,000 and 96,000 genes in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum). The plant’s genome is…

EU rejects study linking genetically modified corn to cancer

The EU’s food safety agency definitively rejected Wednesday a bombshell French report linking genetically modified corn to cancer, saying it failed to meet “acceptable scientific standards.” “Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Seralini et al. mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards,” the European…

Meteorologists: 2012 set to be ninth warmest year on record

World Meteorological Organisation data shows average global temperature to date is 14.45C, higher than long-term average This year is likely to be the ninth warmest on record, with global temperatures in 2012 cooler than the average for the past decade owing to the effects of La Niña weather patterns early…

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