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Star-and Planet-Forming Regions May Hold Key to Life’s Chirality
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Apr 26, 2013 – Life on Earth is made of left-handed amino acids (L-amino acids). The question of why organisms on Earth consist of L-amino acids instead of D-amino acids or consist of D-sugar instead of L-sugar is still an unresolved riddle. Recent research into star and planet formation throws new light on this question. A research team with Jungmi Kwon (GUAS/NAOJ) has performed deep imaging linear and … more

Rare Galaxy Found Furiously Burning Fuel for Stars
Montreal, Canada (SPX) Apr 26, 2013 – Astronomers have found a galaxy turning gas into stars with almost 100 percent efficiency, a rare phase of galaxy evolution that is the most extreme yet observed. The findings come from the IRAM Plateau de Bure interferometer in the French Alps, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. “Galaxies burn gas like a car engine burns fuel. Most galaxies have … more

Space debris problem now urgent – scientists
Paris (AFP) April 25, 2013 – Governments must start working urgently to remove orbital debris, which could become a catastrophic problem for satellites a few decades from now, a space science conference heard on Thursday. Since 1978, the total of junk items whizzing around the planet has tripled, said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office. “There is a wide and strong expert consens … more

Einstein’s theory holds up in deep space
Washington (AFP) April 25, 2013 – Some 7,000 light years away, Einstein’s theory of general relativity has stood up to its most intense test yet, scientists said on Thursday. The project involved observing a massive, fast-spinning star called a pulsar, and its companion white dwarf – a smaller but very dense star that is dying, having lost most of its outer layers – doing a dizzying orbital dance. The unusually heavy n … more

‘Black carbon’ flowing from soil to oceans
Helsinki, Finland (SPX) Apr 23, 2013 – A smaller proportion of black carbon created during combustion will remain in soil than have been estimated before. Contrary to previous understanding, burying black carbon in the ground in order to restrain climate change will not create a permanent carbon reserve. Instead, a part of black carbon will dissolve from soil to rivers. The flux of dissolved black carbon from the rivers to the … more

Physicists find right (and left) solution for on-chip optics
Cambridge MA (SPX) Apr 23, 2013 – A Harvard-led team of researchers has created a new type of nanoscale device that converts an optical signal into waves that travel along a metal surface. Significantly, the device can recognize specific kinds of polarized light and accordingly send the signal in one direction or another. The findings, published in the April 19 issue of Science, offer a new way to precisely manipulate ligh … more