Elon Musk outlines Mars colony vision
Entrepreneur Elon Musk has outlined his vision for establishing a human colony on Mars for people that can afford a $200,000 ticket price. Mr Musk, who founded private spaceflight company SpaceX, was speaking at theInternational Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday. His colonisation plan uses a fully reusable transportation system that would take 100 people and 80 days to get to Mars and eventually as little as 30 days. This transportation system consists ...Proteins from 'deep time' found in ostrich eggshell
Scientists have found preserved proteins in 3.8-million-year-old ostrich eggshells from Africa. The researchers say these biological building blocks - bound into the eggshell - could provide genetic information up to 50 times older than any DNA. These proteins, the team said, had been protected because they had been "entrapped" in surface minerals. The findings are reported in the journal ELife.China's colossal radio telescope begins testing(Video)
The world's largest radio telescope, which has been built in China, is beginning an intensive testing phase. Chinese scientists report that the giant dish, which measures 500m (1,640ft) across, is complete and has received its first signals from space. It will now take three years to calibrate the instrument so it can become fully operational. The facility, part of China's drive to become a science powerhouse, was opened at a ceremony on Sunday. "This is very exciting," Prof Peng Bo, deputy ...Horses can communicate with us - scientists
Horses have joined a select group of animals that can communicate by pointing at symbols. Scientists trained horses, by offering slices of carrot as an incentive, to touch a board with their muzzle to indicate if they wanted to wear a rug. The horses' requests matched the weather, suggesting it wasn't a random choice. A few other animals, including apes and dolphins, appear, like us, to express preferences by pointing at things. Dr Cecilie Mejdell of the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, who l...Dry tropical forests 'overlooked and under threat'
Tropical dry forests are among the most threatened habitats on the planet, yet remain overlooked by scientists and conservationists, warn researchers. Despite being home to many species found nowhere else on the planet, few forests are protected, a study shows. The extent of these valuable biological hotspots is just 10% of its historical range, as the biome's fertile soil make it an ideal place to grow cash crops. The findings have been published in the journal Science. These landscape...Watching films releases 'natural painkiller'
Watching a tear jerking film helps in social bonding, say researchers. The finding could explain our attraction to dramatic works of fiction - even if they make us cry. Experiments by an Oxford University team suggest tragic films and other dramatic works trigger a rush of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. This acts as a natural painkiller and helps us bond with the people around us, they report in the Royal Society journal Open Science. The human fascination with story telling was fo...China embarked on wind power frenzy, says IEA
China has been building two wind turbines every hour, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has told BBC News. This is the world's biggest programme of turbine installation, double that of its nearest rival, the US. The nation’s entire annual increase in energy demand has been fulfilled from the wind. But the IEA warns China has built so much coal-fired generating capacity that it is turning off wind turbines for 15% of the time. The problem is that coal-fired power stations are given ...Sleep 'prioritises memories we care about'
A study has found that during sleep, the experiences you care about are more likely to enter your long-term memory. Eighty non-Welsh speaking participants were taught Welsh words before either a period of wake or sleep. Those who slept showed an increased ability to learn the words, and the effect was greatest in those who placed personal value on the language. This suggests that memories perceived as important undergo preferential treatment by the brain during sleep. While it has long been ...Asteroid probe begins seven-year quest
The US space agency (Nasa) has launched a mission to retrieve a rock sample from a 500m-wide asteroid called Bennu. Scientists hope the material will reveal details about the formation of the planets, and improve our knowledge of how potentially dangerous space objects move through the Solar System. The probe, dubbed Osiris-Rex, blasted away from Florida on an Atlas rocket at 19:05 local time (00:05 BST). It will be seven years before it returns to Earth with its bounty. This will be de...World's wilderness reduced by a tenth since 1990s
A tenth of the world's wilderness has vanished in the past two decades, research shows. New maps show "alarming losses" of pristine landscapes, particularly in South America and Africa, according to World Conservation Society scientists. They argue in Current Biology that wild areas are ignored in international conservation agreements, despite their ecological and cultural value. About 20% of the world's land area is classed as wilderness. By this, scientists mean landscapes free o...DNA confirms cause of 1665 London's Great Plague
DNA testing has for the first time confirmed the identity of the bacteria behind London's Great Plague. The plague of 1665-1666 was the last major outbreak of bubonic plague in Britain, killing nearly a quarter of London's population. It's taken a year to confirm initial findings from a suspected Great Plague burial pit during excavation work on the Crossrail site at Liverpool Street. About 3,500 burials have been uncovered during excavation of the site. Daniel Defoe's 18th century account o...Pollution particles 'get into brain'
Tiny particles of pollution have been discovered inside samples of brain tissue, according to new research. Suspected of toxicity, the particles of iron oxide could conceivably contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's - though evidence for this is lacking. The finding - described as "dreadfully shocking" by the researchers - raises a host of new questions about the health risks of air pollution. Many studies have focused on the impact of dirty air on the lungs and heart. Now this new research...Mary Rose shipwreck skulls go online in 3D
For the first time, skulls and other artefacts from the 1545 wreck of Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose are being exhibited online as 3D reconstructions. Researchers from Swansea University unveiled the scans to coincide with theBritish Science Festival, taking place in the Welsh city this week. Some of the virtual objects are public while others are for research purposes. The idea is to see how much can be learned about the lives of the ship's crew, just from their digitised bones...Geologists search for Anthropocene 'golden spike'
The notion that we have entered a new geological age is real and should be formally recognised, according to an international report. The verdict comes from a panel set up to judge the merits of adding an Anthropocene ("Age of Humans") time segment to the history of the Earth. The group delivered its preliminary evidence and recommendations on Monday. It now needs to identify a suitable marker in the environment that epitomises the start of the new phase. Colin Waters from the British Geolog...
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