Scientists: New amphibian family augurs more India discoveries
An adult Chikilidae, a new family of legless amphibian known as a caecilian, is shown with eggs and hatchlings in India.
February 23rd, 2012
08:11 PM ET

Scientists: New amphibian family augurs more India discoveries

Scientists have found what they say is a new family of legless amphibians in Northeast India - animals they say may have diverged from similar vertebrates in Africa when the land masses separated tens of millions of years ago.

The find, the scientists say, might foreshadow other discoveries in Northeast India and might help show the area played a more important evolutionary role than previously thought.

The creatures are part of an order of limbless, soil-dwelling amphibians called caecilians - not to be confused with snakes, which are reptiles. Caecilians were previously known to consist of nine families in Asia, Africa and South America.

But different bone structures in the head distinguish this apparent 10th family, and DNA testing links the creatures not to other caecilians in India, but to caecilians that are exclusively from Africa, the scientists report this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

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Filed under: On Earth
February 23rd, 2012
01:22 PM ET

Oops! Speed of light may still be the limit

By Christopher Cottrell, CNN

It could have shaken the very cornerstones of modern physics but - oops! - it experienced some technical difficulties. An experiment suggesting that particles could travel faster than the speed of light had some potential flaws, scientists announced Thursday.

The contemporary understanding of how the universe works is based on Albert Einstein’s 1905 Special Theory of Relativity, which says the speed of light is a constant that cannot be exceeded - it's the universe's speed limit. To go beyond it would be to look back in time, the late German physicist said.

Scientists at OPERA – which stands for Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Racking Apparatus – were surprised last year to find that tiny particles called neutrinos were arriving at their destination faster than expected. They were tasked with tracking tiny particles as they soar through 730 kilometers of solid rock between a particle accelerator at CERN in Geneva and the Gran Sasso underground laboratory in Italy.


Students Shaping America’s Next Spacecraft
February 23rd, 2012
11:27 AM ET

Students Shaping America’s Next Spacecraft

"Students from Texas A&M University visited the Orion Medium Fidelity Mockup as part of the SSANS, or Students Shaping America’s Next Spacecraft, program. The students, who are Industrial Engineering majors at Texas A&M, partnered with the Orion Program on two senior design projects: Orion Lighting System hardware for the Orion Full-scale Mockup and the Orion Budget and Planning Project. During their visit on Feb. 22, 2012, the students presented their work as part of the Preliminary Design Review at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. While at the center, they had an opportunity to see the Orion mockups and tour center facilities."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen


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