Oldest tooth filling may have been found
Beeswax on this ancient jawbone indicates the earliest evidence of theraputic dentistry
September 19th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Oldest tooth filling may have been found

We all know the drill: Slip up on your regular brush-and-floss routine, and you may end up at the dentist's office with a cavity that needs to be filled. But what people did about their toothaches thousands of years ago?

Scientists in Italy have discovered what may be the earliest evidence of therapeutic dentistry performed on a human.

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One reports the discovery of a beeswax filling on the left canine of a 6,500-year-old human jawbone from Slovenia. It is housed at the Natural History Museum of Trieste, Italy.

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Reports: Astronomers capture impact on Jupiter's surface
This screenshot from George Hall's blog shows what is believed by some to be an impact on Jupiter's surface.
September 11th, 2012
04:08 PM ET

Reports: Astronomers capture impact on Jupiter's surface

A fireball thought to be an asteroid or comet hitting the surface of Jupiter was captured by two amateur astronomers early Monday, spaceweather.com reports.

One of the astronomers, identified as George Hall from Dallas,  posted a screen shot in multiple reports  and wrote about the discovery on his blog, George’s Astrophotography.

“The impact was observed by Dan Peterson visually this morning,” Hall wrote, crediting another space enthusiast with making the initial observation and posting what he saw online.

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Filed under: In Space
Planetary odd couple discovered
An artist's redndering of a view of an unusual planet orbiting Kepler-36.
June 21st, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Planetary odd couple discovered

The discovery of a planetary "odd couple" is broadening the way scientists think about planetary migration.

Scientists at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and University of Washington discovered two planets of very different sizes and makeups orbiting Kepler-36, a sun-like star under nearly continuous surveillance by the Kepler spacecraft.

"This is kind of an extreme system in that the planets are relatively closely spaced in their orbits but their compositions are quite disparate," said Josh Carter, Hubble Fellow at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who discovered the smaller planet.

"They're quite the odd couple."

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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space • Kepler
Rover bound for intriguing crater on Mars
Curiosity, NASA's most advanced rover, will search Gale Crater for evidence of life as we know it on Mars.
June 14th, 2012
09:50 AM ET

Rover bound for intriguing crater on Mars

Curiosity, NASA's rover bound for Mars, is set to touch down in August. Now, scientists say they know with even more accuracy where it will land.

The summer landing will be the start of a Martian road trip that will take months or possibly a year as Curiosity makes its way toward its final destination, the Gale Crater, said Curiosity contributor James Wray, an assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"The most important thing perhaps is that we are steering to a different place in Gale Crater, which is a giant mountain of sedimentary rock," Wray said. Unlike Curiosity's predecessors, Opportunity and Spirit,  "We are going with the intention of having to drive a long distance before even getting to what we want to study because the mountain is too steep," Wray said.

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Filed under: In Space • Mars
Laser beam may one day replace X-rays
This illustration represents an electron being ripped from an atom by a strong laser field.
June 7th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Laser beam may one day replace X-rays

Researchers at the University of Colorado have made a breakthrough that may one day help doctors detect disease earlier and with more accuracy.

Based on the hypothosesis of Dr. Tenio Popmintchev, researchers have created a laser beam by adding 5,000 photons together. Previously, two photons were typically used to create laser beams. This is the first time so many photons have been successfully added together.

The result is a more efficient and easier to set up X-ray, according to Dr. Margaret Murnane.

"If we can push this further, and we don’t know how far into the X-ray region we can push this technology, there's a chance we can change your doctor or dentist's X-ray device to a laser version." Murnane said.

"The image would be much crisper. It could really get high resolution X-rays so you could detect disease much earlier."

But that is still a while away - possibly around 10 or 20 years guessed Murnane.

In the meantime, the breakthrough sheds light on how heat flows in very small devices, which may allow scientists develop more energy efficient data storage devices, better understanding of solar energy harvesting and better nano electronics, "so your laptop doesn't heat up so fast," Murnane said.

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Filed under: News
The end of the galaxy as we know it?
NASA illustration of the night sky prior to the Andromeda galaxy's predicted merger with the Milky Way which will begin in about 4 billion years.
May 31st, 2012
01:00 PM ET

The end of the galaxy as we know it?

Our Milky Way galaxy is an anomaly in more ways than one. And now, NASA scientists say they know exactly when it will come to an end.

In a universe that is forever spreading apart, the Milky Way has been moving closer to celestial neighbor the Andromeda galaxy. But whether we are in for intergalactic Armageddon or an extraterrestrial fender bender has been a mystery - until now.

“Very interestingly, we find that Andromeda galaxy does appear to be coming straight at us,” said Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He was scheduled to speak at a NASA press conference Thursday.

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Filed under: Discoveries • News

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