Tech

America’s first immigrants had to wait 8,000 years to be admitted

HOW America was originally colonised is a topic of perennial interest at the AAAS. Until recently, the earliest uncontested archaeological evidence of people living in the New World came from Swan Point, in Alaska. This dates back 14,400 years. Linguists, however, maintain that the diversity of native languages in the Americas could not have arisen so quickly. Conventional models of ...

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How to predict and prepare for space weather

SOMETIMES the sun burps. It flings off mighty arcs of hot plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). If one of these hits Earth it plays havoc with the planet’s magnetic field. Such storms are among the most spectacular examples of what astronomers call space weather, a subject to which a session at this year’s meeting of the American Association ...

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Plucking minerals from the seabed is back on the agenda

Crunch time for submarine mining IN THE 1960s and 1970s, amid worries about dwindling natural resources, several big companies looked into the idea of mining the ocean floor. They proved the principle by collecting hundreds of tonnes of manganese nodules—potato-sized mineral agglomerations that litter vast tracts of Davy Jones’s locker. At first sight, these nodules are attractive targets for mining ...

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Fears that California’s huge Oroville Dam will fail have subsided—for now

FOR the past five years, drought-stricken Californians have implored the heavens for rain. Lately, their prayers have been answered more torrentially than many may have wished. This winter is shaping up to be California’s wettest on record. The snowpack on the Sierra Nevada (a crucial water supply for the long, dry summer) is almost double its normal depth, and near-empty ...

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How to use mosquitoes to combat disease

Gotcha IMAGINE a small drone that could fly around sampling animals and people in an effort to see which pathogens are present in an area, and what host species harbour them. That would be invaluable to epidemiologists seeking to understand how diseases spread, and how to predict and pre-empt their outbreaks. At the moment, such a drone is beyond human ...

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Astronomers discover a star with seven Earth-sized planets

ON FEBRUARY 19th, in the shadow of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Boston’s Copley Square saw a small but determined pro-science rally by those worried about what the newly installed President Trump might mean for the world’s scientific superpower. “There is no Plan(et) B” read one sign. That is true, for now. But ...

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