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Did Llama Dung Spur the Rise of Andean Civilization?

In 1610, a Jesuit priest journeyed through the high valleys of the central Andes, keenly observing the lives of the inhabitants. Father Bernabé Cobo was struck by the cold bleakness of the region and by the singular importance of llamas to its people. The indigenous inhabitants ate llama meat, bred them to carry goods, and used their wool and skin for clothing and shoes. These animals, Cobo later wrote, comprised "all the wealth of the mountain Indians."

from ScienceNOW Daily News

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Change the World, and Win Fabulous Prizes

The Internet is revitalizing an old stalwart in the innovation game: the prize as incentive.

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

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Rogue Waves Captured

Freak waves that swallow ships whole have been re-created in a tank of water. Though these tiny terrors are only centimeters high, a devilishly difficult mathematical equation describing their shape may help to explain the origins of massive rogue waves at sea.

from Science News

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Cast Adrift in the Milky Way, Billions of Planets, All Alone

Is the galaxy full of orphans? Astronomers said Wednesday that space was littered with hundreds of billions of planets that had been ejected from the planetary systems that gave them birth and either were going their own lonely ways or were only distantly bound to stars at least 10 times as far away as the Sun is from the Earth...

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

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'Grape' Is Key to Fossil Puzzle

A single-celled ball about the size of a grape may provide an explanation for one of the mysteries of fossil history. Writing in Current Biology, researchers say the creature leaves tracks on the seabed which mirror fossilised tracks left up to 1.8 billion years ago. Many palaeontologists believe only multi-celled organisms could have made these tracks...

from BBC News Online

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Energy: America's Top Climate Cop

Mary Nichols can take some pride in the view as she travels out of Los Angeles. The San Gabriel Mountains rise up to the north, framed by blue sky with just a touch of midday haze. The clear vista comes in large part because of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the agency that Nichols leads, which has spent decades cleaning up the city's air. Now she and her team are setting their sights even higher--with an ambitious plan to cut California's greenhouse-gas emissions...

from Nature News

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Controversial Computer Is at Least a Little Quantum Mechanical

If the experiment was meant to silence the critics, it didn't. Four years ago, an upstart tech company created a stir when it claimed to have built a quantum computer--a thing that, in principle, could solve problems ordinary computers can't. Physicists from D-Wave Systems in Burnaby, Canada, even put on a demonstration. But other researchers questioned whether there was anything quantum mechanical going on inside the device. Now, the D-Wave team has published data that they say prove quantum phenomena are at work within its chip. But even if that's true, others still doubt that, as D-Wave researchers claim, the chip can do quantum-mechanical computations.

from ScienceNOW Daily News

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Independent Study Faults Owner in W.Va. Coal Blast

BECKLEY, W.Va. (Associated Press) -- Massey Energy Co. recklessly ignored safety and allowed dangerous conditions to build inside a West Virginia mine until a blast last year killed 29 men in the deadliest U.S. coal accident since 1970, according to an independent report released Thursday...

from the Seattle Times

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