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A bit of a jumble today, but I’m sure you’ll make it through the maze eventually. 😉

  • Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking.
  • Isaac Asimov on why contact with extraterrestrials would be safe.
  • Chances Are: The improbable thrills of probability theory.
  • Iron-rich whale droppings allow oceans to absorb more carbon dioxide.
  • Volcano ash can wreck jet engines, poison freshwater lakes and damage lungs. But ash helps fertilize oceans, volcano researchers and marine chemists say.
  • When volcanic eruptions wipe out life at hydrothermal vents, some of the new species that set up camp afterward may come from as far as 200 miles away.
  • Scientists find ancient asphalt domes off California coast.
  • A mighty ocean current carrying about 40 times as much water as the world’s biggest river – the Amazon – has been discovered near Antarctica.
  • Antarctica’s Don Juan Pond, by far the saltiest body of water on Earth, reveals non-organic mechanism for the production of nitrous oxide and other products, including hydrogen. The discovery could help space scientists understand the meaning of similar brine pools in a place whose ecosystem most closely resembles that of Don Juan Pond: Mars.
  • BBC News Video: Ancient language discovered at Teotihuacan in Mexico.
  • Out of this world: Hubble celebrates its 20th birthday with amazing pictures of a turbulent cosmic tower.
  • Colourful Caribbean fish could answer the mystery of why life on Earth is so diverse.
  • Deadly strain of airborne fungus is spreading among healthy people and animals in the US.
  • The ‘Killer Fungus’: Should We Be Scared? ‘We don’t know how these more pathogenic [strains] arose, how they were selected for, and how they got to this region of the world.’
  • Study shows fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, dramatically reduces cancerous tumour growth by up to 90 percent.
  • Scottish scientists have made cancer tumours vanish within 10 days by sending DNA to seek and destroy the cells.
  • Animal Factory: The problem with factory farms.
  • Animal behaviour scientist Jonathan Balcombe says, despite a flood of studies showing that animals are, in all the important ways, sentient in the manner that we are, our treatment of animals remains medieval.
  • Hailed a hero: German shepherd named Buddy led police down winding back-roads to owner’s burning home.
  • Elephants are so scared of bees that they have a special alarm call to warn the herd when bees are a threat.
  • Hallucinogenic drugs including LSD and Ecstasy are being used by doctors in tests to treat conditions including cancer anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Brother Sharp: Our genetic predisposition to judge on sight may tell us otherwise, but physical appearance can’t tell you who someone is on the inside. I admit I lost it while watching the video of Brother Sharp crying, but unusually, this very strange story has a relatively happy ending.
  • Scientists now think dinosaurs were killed off by a sudden drop in temperature.
  • We may all be a little bit Neanderthal: study finds species interbred twice with humans.

Thanks to Randall, Red Pill Junkie, and that time traveller link in Friday’s News Briefs.

Quote of the Day:

To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.

We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.

Stephen Hawking