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Science


— Environment

Statistically, humanity is almost certainly responsible for global warming

The world is getting warmer, with 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record occurring in the current century. But just how sure are we that humanity's burning of oil and coal is the key factor in the temperature increase? A new project, led by researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has answered that very question, working to estimate the likelihood of those temperature trends occurring naturally.

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— Medical

Nanoparticles used to take on late-stage liver cancer

Treating late-stage liver cancer can be extremely difficult, with drugs that prove effective in healthy organs causing high levels of toxicity when introduced to cirrhotic livers. A newly-developed nanoparticle delivery system could improve the situation, with early tests showing it to be effective as a non-toxic treatment in experiments with laboratory mice.

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— Space

Cassini prepares for dramatic climax to its mission

NASA's Cassini spacecraft recently completed the second of five planned burns designed to maneuver the spacecraft out of Saturn's ring plane, and into a polar orbit. The move is being made in preparation for the final phase of Cassini's mission, which will see the spacecraft perform a series of daring orbits, maximizing the probe's scientific output prior to the mission's termination.

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— Space

Planet with 900,000-year orbit lies a staggering 1 trillion kilometers from its sun

In an astronomical astronomical discovery, scientists have identified what's believed to be the widest known planetary system. Situated about 104 light years from Earth, a planet that could be 15 times the size of Jupiter is in a 900,000-year orbit at a mind-boggling distance of 1 trillion km from its parent star – that's 7,000 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun.

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— Space

Goodbye ground control: Nanosatellites achieve first autonomous orbital maneuver

One of the advantages of bread loaf-sized nanosatellites is their potential to act as a swarm that can equal the power of a single larger satellite, but with more flexibility and at lower cost. Deep Space Industries has taken a major step in that direction in a successful test involving two autonomous Canadian satellites, which carried out the first orbital maneuver without human supervision.

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— Medical

Brain scans could head off depression

A simple brain scan could identify children at risk of suffering from depression later in life, according to a new study. If implemented, the early warning test could allow doctors to carry out treatment prior to the first instance of depression, making it less likely that the patient will suffer further bouts.

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— Medical

Blocking key protein puts the brakes on leukaemia

Our body has controls in place to regulate how cells grow and divide, which is a particularly useful mechanism in preventing the spread of disease. But when it comes to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), an aggressive form of blood cancer, these controls are neutralized, giving the cancer cells free rein to multiply and grow uncontrollably. Australian researchers have now discovered a protein that drives this process, and have shown that by blocking its activity they might be able to stop the deadly form of cancer in its tracks.

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— Materials

Beetles inspire ice-resistant aircraft surfaces

Rerouting warm engine air and pumping ice-melting chemicals onto the wings are a couple of ways to keep aircraft surfaces free of frost during flight, but researchers are looking for a more efficient technique. Taking their inspiration from a water-gathering desert beetle, scientists have developed a patterned surface on which the spread of ice can be controlled and prevented. They say the material could be scaled up and applied to not only aircraft parts, but also wind turbines, heat pump coils and car windshields.

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— Space

Is ET dead – and are we next?

With the number of potentially habitable exoplanets in our galaxy alone estimated to be in the billions, many wonder why we are yet to see signs or hear from intelligent alien life. A pair of astrobiologists from the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Earth Sciences hypothesize the reason may be that ET could be long dead. According to Aditya Chopra and Charley Lineweaver, conditions on young planets are so volatile that if life doesn't evolve fast enough to stabilize the environment, it will quickly become extinct.

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— Environment

Plant openings signal "birth of large-scale solar in Australia"

According to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Australia boasts the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world. But despite much of the continent being seemingly perfect for large scale solar, it has been slow in coming to the sun-drenched country. That could be set to change with the official opening of two plants that AGL Energy managing director and CEO Andy Vesey says "signals the birth of large-scale solar in Australia".

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