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World's oldest known hafted axe fragment found in Western Australia

NewsOn Wednesday Australian archaeologists published an analysis of a previously discovered axe fragment which indicates it is up to 49,000 years old.

The axe fragment was originally discovered in Western Australia's Kimberley region in 1991 by Professor Sue O'Connor of the Australian National University but was only recently examined. The recent analysis and dating published in journal Australian Archaeology indicates the fragment came from the head of a hafted axe 46,000 to 49,000 years old. This is currently the world's oldest known hafted axe fragment.

NASA releases first topographical map of Mercury

AstronomyOn Friday, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first ever global digital elevation model (DEM) of Mercury.

The DEM was created using data gathered by NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, including over 100,000 photographs, and shows a variety of Mercury's topographical features including the planet's highest and lowest points. MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon said they hope the information will be used to investigate Mercury's geological history.

NASA releases complete image of Pluto's crescent

AstronomyOn Thursday, NASA released the first complete picture of Pluto's crescent from the New Horizons probe. The probe captured the image with its Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14, fifteen minutes after closest approach to the planet.

After nine years' journey, New Horizons made closest approach to Pluto on July 14 and released the first coloured photo of the dwarf planet's atmospheric haze on October 8. An incomplete crescent photo of Pluto was released in September.

The photo shows different layers of the haze of Pluto's faint atmosphere with Sputnik Planum, an icy plain, visible on the right side and uneven plateaus on the dark left side.

After Mars, NASA announces water ice on Pluto

AstronomyNASA released yesterday the first coloured pictures of Pluto's blue atmosphere and water ice on the surface taken by the space probe New Horizons.

NASA said the haze particles may be grey or red in colour, but the scattering of light producing blue colour indicates the size of the particles. Smaller particles results in the scattering of the blue light. Scientists calls those soot like grey-red particles tholins.

NASA announces water on Mars

AstronomyOn Monday, NASA announced that signs of liquid water have been found on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft found evidence of the liquid on the Martian surface, in long dark spots on the Red Planet thought to be formed because of water flow.

In a news conference, NASA's planetary science director, Jim Green said, "We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes [...] but something has happened to Mars, it lost its water."

Study estimates Earth has over three trillion trees

BiologyA study published yesterday by Nature estimates the global tree population at just over three trillion. Previous work estimated the total at 400 billion.

The international research, led by Yale University in the US, used satellite images to examine over 400,000 plots of land for estimated tree density. Subarctic regions of Scandinavia, Russia, and North America had the highest densities but the largest forested areas were tropical. The study puts 43% of trees in the tropics, where deforestation is particularly common.

Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about 'self-medicating' ants

Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about 'self-medicating' antsNick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies "the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience". In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Scientists create micro-battery using 3D printing

Engineering and TechnologyScientists have successfully created a Lithium ion micro-battery the size of a grain of sand. A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Illinois were able to create the tiny battery using 3D printing technology.

In order to achieve this feat, the separate parts of the battery were printed layer-by-layer using materials thinner than a human hair. This resulted in two separate comb-like structures which, when interlocked, act as the anode and cathode. These were then immersed in an electrolyte solution which created a working battery.

Soyuz TMA-08M launches to International Space Station, arrives in record time

AstronomySoyuz TMA-08M, a Russian spacecraft with a crew of three aboard, launched from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station (ISS) Thursday at 20:43 UTC (2:43 AM Friday, local time) and docked with the orbital outpost at 2:28 UTC on Friday after following a flight plan enabling a docking in record time.

Record size 17.4 million-digit prime found

Engineering and TechnologyCurtis Cooper, a mathematician and computer science professor at the University of Central Missouri, has discovered the largest known prime number to date on January 25. Several people verified the discovery using different hardware and software by the beginning of February and it was announced on Tuesday. Cooper found the prime as a participant in the distributed computing project known as the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS. Cooper runs the GIMPS client, called Prime95, on an estimated 1,000 computers at the university.

Study suggests successful depression treatment lowers youths' risk of drug abuse

HealthA new study by Duke University in the US suggests depressed adolescents who respond to treatment within twelve weeks are at a reduced risk of drug abuse later in their lives.

The research followed about half of a pool of 439 adolescents who had received treatment for major depression and volunteered for Duke University research. At the five-year study's conclusion the participants were aged 17?23. None of them had previously misused drink or drugs.
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