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NASA prepares for space shuttle’s final mission

Atlantis is poised to blaze a path into history on Friday when it propels toward the heavens on the last-ever mission of the 30-year-old American space shuttle program. With the launch scheduled for 11:26 am (1526 GMT) despite a gloomy weather forecast, the storied spacecraft will tote four US astronauts…

Obama: NASA needs to revamp its mission

WASHINGTON — NASA needs new technology breakthroughs to revitalize its mission to explore the universe, President Barack Obama said Wednesday as the shuttle Atlantis was preparing for its final mission. Asked during his first-ever Twitter town hall meeting about where America stands in terms of space exploration with the shuttle…

Aboriginals fear spill from Canada’s first pipeline to the Pacific Coast

Aboriginals fearing a spill are threatening to try again to block Canada’s first pipeline connecting the rich oil fields of Alberta to the Pacific Coast aiming to reach new markets in Asia. Pipeline giant Enbridge has hinted in recent months it would soon receive a nod from the federal government…

Iceland’s Hekla volcano ‘ready to erupt’

One of Iceland’s most feared volcanoes, Hekla, looks ready to erupt, with measurement instruments showing likely magma movement, an Icelandic geophysicist told AFP on Wednesday. “The movements around Hekla have been unusual in the last two to three days and have been recorded in five very precise metres placed around…

‘Mega-wombat’ unearthed in Australia

The fossil of a car sized mega-wombat has been unearthed in northern Australia, scientists said Wednesday — the most complete skeleton of its kind. Weighing in at a whopping three tonnes, the herbivorous diprotodon was the largest marsupial to ever roam the earth and lived between two million and 50,000…

Japan to ‘stress test’ all nuclear reactors

Japan said Wednesday it will run “stress tests” on all its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi atomic accident sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The ongoing crisis, the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, has ignited debate in Japan about…

Gum disease can delay pregnancy for months

STOCKHOLM — Women who wish to fall pregnant should be advised to brush their teeth and floss regularly as gum disease affects chances of conception, a fertility conference in Stockholm was told on Tuesday. Periodontal disease can delay the time it takes to conceive by two months on average, an…

French nuclear reactor authorized for 10 more years

French safety authorities Monday said they had cleared a reactor at a 33-year-old nuclear plant to go on functioning for another decade provided maintenance work is carried out. The number one reactor at Fessenheim, France’s oldest nuclear plant, “is suitable to be used for 10 more years on condition that…

Diesel cars gain traction slowly in U.S. market

After many fits and starts, diesel cars are gaining traction in the US market, fueled largely by German carmakers including Volkswagen, which opened a plant in May in Tennessee. Diesel auto sales in the United States revved higher this year thanks to some temporary factors, including a shortage of hybrid…

Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior III debuts

Greenpeace unveiled a new weapon in its campaign against environmental destruction on Monday — a 23 million euro ($33.4 million) ship dubbed the Rainbow Warrior III. The state-of-the-art vessel went afloat in Berne-Motzen in northern Germany ahead of its official launch to mark Greenpeace’s 40th birthday in October. The original…

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