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Coolest Science Stories of the Week
Live Science, 15 July 2012.

Cool Science

Tributes to Dr. Seuss and Bob Marley, stressed out penguins, new-born stars and newfound moons - we found some truly cool stories for you this week. Check these out.

11. Crustacean Named for Bob Marley

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The late Jamaican musician Bob Marley has joined the "I have a species named after me" club, as a parasitic crustacean has been donned Gnathia marleyi, researchers announced today (July 10).

This blood feeder infests certain fish that live among the coral reefs of the shallow eastern Caribbean Sea.

10. How to Walk on 'Oobleck'

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Lots of people have demonstrated that, surprisingly, if you fill a pool with water and corn-starch you can run across it. Stop, and you sink. How that happens, though, has been something of a mystery in fluid dynamics.

The usual explanation for this "walking on water" phenomenon: Suspensions - that's any liquid with particles in it - are non-Newtonian fluids that get thicker, or more viscous, as the rate of shear (deformation caused by, say, running across it) goes up. Common examples are ketchup, blood and toothpaste. "Normal" fluids, like water, flow and their viscosity stays constant.

9. Awww! New-born Star's Heartbeat Spotted

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Using the X-ray eyes of three space telescopes, astronomers have captured a behind-the-scenes look at the dramatic behaviour of a new-born sun-like star, as it spins rapidly and churns out powerful and long-lasting eruptions.

The infant star, called V1647 Orionis, is known as a proto-star, and was formed by clouds of surrounding gas and dust. The star is located 1,300 light-years away in McNeil's Nebula, which is a bustling hotspot of star formation in the constellation of Orion.

8. Booze May Be Good for Old Bones

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Later in life, drinking one to two alcoholic drinks daily may curb bone loss - so much so that just a two-week break from alcohol hastened bone decline in women in a new study.

Researchers looked at the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on "bone turnover," or the breaking down of old bone cells, in healthy post-menopausal women. After menopause, women's production of new bone cells slows, but the rate of shedding old cells does not slow as much. In other words, the "out with the old" outpaces the "in with the new," leading to a porous skeleton that easily fractures.

7. Fossils of Human Ancestor Hidden in Plain Sight

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Two years ago, scientists announced they had discovered partial skeletons from a new species of human ancestor in a South African cave.

Now, more remains have turned up - in a large rock about 3.3 feet (1 meter) in diameter hiding in plain sight in a laboratory at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, the university announced today (June 12).

6. Pluto Has a 5th Moon

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A new moon has been discovered orbiting Pluto, scientists announced today (July 11).

Researchers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope found the moon, bringing the number of known Pluto satellites to five. The discovery comes almost exactly one year after Hubble spotted Pluto's fourth moon, a tiny body currently called P4.

5. Are We Stressing Out Penguins?

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Scientists studying king penguins on a sub-Antarctic island, along with tourists, may be stressing the waddling, flightless birds, new research suggests. However, it seems the penguins are getting used to their human visitors.

The new study reveals how more than 50 years of human presence, or the time since a permanent research station was set up, on Possession Island, has impacted a major colony of breeding king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), called the "Baie du Marin" colony. Research reported last year on these penguins found that flipper tagging was linked with fewer chicks and a lower survival rate for the birds compared with untagged king penguins.

4. Major Solar Flare Erupts

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The sun unleashed a huge flare Thursday (July 12), the second major solar storm to erupt from our star in less than a week.

The solar flare peaked at 12:52 p.m. EDT (1652 GMT) as an X-class sun storm, the most powerful type of flare the sun can have.

"It erupted from Active Region 1520, which rotated into view on July 6," NASA officials said in an alert. Active Region 1520, or AR1520, is a giant sunspot currently facing Earth.

3. Batman Visits the Shrink

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He wears a caped bat costume in public and funds an alter ego out of his personal fortune. As a child he witnessed his parents' murders; as an adult, he puts his own life on the line, practicing a personal brand of vigilante justice.

He may be a comic book character, but Batman provides fertile ground for a psychologist, and California clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg has taken up the challenge.

2. Identity of First Americans Questioned

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Ancient stone projectile points discovered in a Central Oregon cave complex have cast new light on the identity of the first Americans.

While scientists agree they crossed the Bering Strait during an ice age, no one knows the identity of the first people to spread across the North American continent.

1. How the Deaf Feel Touch

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Individuals who are born deaf use the "hearing" part of their brain to feel touch and to see objects, suggests new research that highlights the plasticity of the human brain.

The new study, detailed online July 11 in The Journal of Neuroscience, shows that deaf people use the so-called auditory cortex to process both touch and visual stimuli much more than hearing individuals do.

[Source: Live Science. Edited. Top image added.]

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