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Strange planet is blacker than coal

PARIS — A planet orbiting a distant star is darker than coal, reflecting less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, according to a paper published on Thursday. The strange world, TrES-2b, is a gas giant the size of Jupiter, rather than a solid, rocky body like Earth…

Prehistoric marine reptile fossil has embryo inside

A fossil of a prehistoric water reptile has an embryo inside, providing the first evidence that plesiosaurs gave birth to live offspring rather than laying eggs, a US study said Thursday. The 78-million-year-old fossil of the Polycotylus latippinus, a four-flippered swimmer something like a snake-turtle combination, is now on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.…

Heart failure linked to memory problems: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Older patients with heart failure had more memory problems when their heart ailments were advanced, in a new study of adults being evaluated for transplants. But that wasn’t the case in young and middle-aged adults with a type of heart failure marked by a lower-than-normal…

Panel seeks more disclosure on ‘fracking’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Natural gas drillers should reveal all chemicals they use in the drilling technique called “fracking” used to tap deep shale reserves, a government panel said on Thursday, even though the risk of water pollution from the technique is “remote.” The U.S. Energy Department’s natural gas advisory subcommittee…

Quantum super-computing sees microwave breakthrough

Physicists in the United States on Wednesday notched up a lab success in the quest for quantum computers, whose stellar capacities have already earned them the nickname of “super-computers on steroids.” Atoms can be excited to a quantum condition using microwaves, an advance over larger and bulkier lasers, until now…

Modified killer T-cells wipe out leukemia: U.S. study

A breakthrough therapy to modify patients’ T-cells into potent tumor-killing agents has helped three leukemia sufferers stay cancer-free for a year, US researchers said Wednesday. The findings are the first to show how gene transfer therapy can create specialized T-cells, which guard the body from infection, that attack cancerous tumors…

Asian ‘phoenix’ lived with the dinosaurs

Palaeontologists said on Wednesday they had found the fossilised remains of a giant bird that lived in Central Asia more than 65 million years ago, a finding which challenges theories about the diversity of early birds. The creature may have been taller than an ostrich if it had been flightless and, if it…

Obama to set fuel efficiency standards for commercial trucks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Tuesday will finalize the first ever fuel efficiency and emissions standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses, which is expected to save owners $50 billion in fuel costs over four years. The standards are expected to save the United States some 530 million…

Mystery fracking memo deepens Ohio drilling debate

A mysterious, unsigned five-page memo that appears to coach oil lease buyers to dupe landowners into allowing fracking in their back yards deepened the debate over the controversial practice when it was discovered in a crushed binder in a Greene County, Ohio driveway. The shale-rich land of Greene County is…

Few replicas as first cloned cat nears 10

Nearly 10 years after scientists cloned the first cat, predictions of a vast commercial market for the “resurrection” of beloved pets through cloning have fallen flat. The leading US pet cloning company halted operations in 2009 and the livestock cloning business remains relatively small with only a few hundred pigs…

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