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Scientists watch black hole devour unlucky star

Scientists have witnessed the rare spectacle of a supermassive black hole devouring a star that had ventured too close — an event that occurs about once in 10,000 years, they reported on Wednesday. Matter-sucking black holes normally lurk dormant and undetected at the centre of galaxies, but can occasionally be…

WWF calls for investigation into Indonesian elephant death

Environmental organisation WWF called on the government Wednesday to investigate the death of a critically endangered Sumatran elephant allegedly poisoned at an Indonesian oil palm plantation. A ranger at the plantation in Aceh Jaya on Sumatra island said he found the 18-year-old female elephant dying on Monday and that locals…

Scientists have underestimated climate change impact on plants: Study

Experiments that try to simulate global warming’s impact on plants badly underestimate what happens in the real world, according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The investigation backs anecdotal evidence from farmers and gardeners, especially in the northern hemisphere, who say seasonal plants are stirring into…

Can cargo bikes replace diesel-guzzling delivery vehicles?

It is a familiar, unpleasant but seemingly inescapable part of modern city life: streets full of diesel-belching vans or lorries on delivery runs, either stuck in jams or else creating them as the driver double-parks to dash into a building. The solution? Roll forward the humble bicycle, or at least…

Study: Space rock caught some dinosaurs already in decline

Large, plant-eating dinosaurs were already in decline by the time a space rock smashed into Earth 65 million years ago and ended the reptiles’ long reign, a study published on Tuesday says. The findings by scientists in the United States and Germany do not dispute the mass extinction that so dramatically ended…

Greenpeace activist flies into French nuclear plant

A Greenpeace activist on Wednesday flew inside the grounds of a French nuclear power plant using a motorised paraglider, police and the organisation said. “A Greenpeace activist arrived with a motorised paraglider around 7:40 am (0540 GMT). He flew over the plant, threw a smoke bomb and landed inside, where he was detained,” police near…

Clinical trials often fall short: U.S. study

WASHINGTON — Most clinical trials for cancer, heart disease and mental health are too small to offer adequate medical evidence, said a review of the US database of such studies released on Tuesday. The analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association was led by experts at Duke University…

Japanese tsunami debris heading to Hawaii

Wreckage from Japan’s tsunami – fishing gear and furniture, footballs and ships – has swept across the Pacific far faster than expected, with thousands of tonnes projected to land on North American shores this year. Scientists believe lighter objects such as buoys and oil drums began reaching land last November…

Scientists have pinpointed nighttime urination protein in elderly

Scientists have pinpointed a protein that helps explain why the elderly frequently have to get up in the night to urinate, a problem that can badly interfere with sleep. Deficient levels of protein called connexin43 trick the bladder into believing that it is full, which sends a “must urinate” warning…

SpaceX test fires rocket ahead of ISS cargo launch

WASHINGTON — SpaceX on Monday successfully test-fired its Falcon 9 rocket in a dress rehearsal for the May 7 launch of its Dragon spacecraft on a cargo-bearing mission to the International Space Station. The test, known as a static fire of the rocket’s nine main engines, lasted just two seconds,…

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