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Science & Technology

Turn Xmas Tree Into Food and Medicine

Given much thought to the afterlife of your Christmas tree? Your city might recycle it into compost or mulch. Or it might rot in a landfill, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But seen through the eyes of a chemical engineer?  “I thought, ok, this could be a good resource.” …

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How to Watch New Horizons’ Ultima Thule Flyby on New Year’s Day: A Webcast Guide

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is about the make the most distant planetary flyby in the history of spaceflight, and you can follow the action live. At 12:33 a.m. EST (0533 GMT) on Jan. 1, New Horizons will zoom past the small object Ultima Thule, which lies 1 billion miles …

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Scientists think they’ve found a super-Earth exoplanet dripping with sapphires and rubies

Adorn yourself in precious gemstones, and you’re sure to attract some attention. It’s true not just for people, but for planets as well. In the latest issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a group of European scientists discuss the discovery of a new exoplanet rich in rubies …

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Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Discovery of Pulsars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars (a specific type of neutron star) and got zero credit for it until recently. Here’s her story Credit: Getty Images Advertisement In 1974, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two men, Anthony Hewish and Sir Martin Ryle, for the discovery of pulsars, the dead remnants …

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How OSIRIS-REx’s Team Creates Those Photos

As the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft zeroed in on its target, the asteroid Bennu, the object transformed from a fuzzy dot into an incredibly bumpy world full of sharp contrasts. But those images don’t produce themselves. It takes a core imaging team of half a dozen people, plus collaborators from around …

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The Year in Robots (2018): Boston Dynamics, Baxter, and More

Depending on your perspective, 2018 either brought us closer to salvation by way of robots, or closer to doom by way of robots: Where some see the end of meaningless work, others see the end of humanity, also meaningless. (We’re in the former camp, by the way.) Whatever your biases …

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Death rays: How the dream of an ultimate weapon became a dark farce

The quest for the ultimate destructive weapon is a convoluted story of egos, charlatanry and deception – with a starring role for mercurial genius Nikola Tesla By Jeff Hecht THE enemy wasted no time firing up the death rays once they arrived in Woking. Generated in an almost perfectly insulating …

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Keep your home’s temperature up and the heating bill down

When the leaves turn, the battle over the thermostat begins. One family member wants to crank up the heat right away, while another insists on saving money by waiting until November 1 on the dot. And once the heat goes on, the dispute between dollars and comfort continues, usually fought …

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We’ve wasted so much plastic, it’s almost impossible to picture—these charts will help

Every year the Royal Statistical Society chooses an International Statistic of the Year. Like all the other end-of-year listicles and roundups you’ve seen, it’s meant to capture some of the zeitgeist in a convenient, clickable package. In 2017, the panel voted for the number 69: the number of Americans killed …

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The mystery of the ISS hole just got even weirder

One of the year’s biggest space stories just gets weirder and weirder. Earlier this week, a Russian cosmonaut who investigated the mysterious hole in the Soyuz capsule docked to the International Space Station revealed that the hole was definitely drilled from the inside, according to authorities, underscoring previous suggestions that …

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