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86 Percent of Earth's Species Still Unknown?

from National Geographic News

Even after centuries of effort, some 86 percent of Earth's species have yet to be fully described, according to new study that predicts our planet is home to 8.7 million species.

That means scientists have cataloged less than 15 percent of species now alive--and current extinction rates mean many unknown organisms will wink out of existence before they can be recorded.

The study was driven by a simple question: "Are we within reach of finding all species, or are we way off?" said study co-author Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhousie University.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

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Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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