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Ceres water, older cats & pyramids, Neanderthal mules, peanut allergy cure

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Ceres water (New Scientist)

The dwarf planet Ceres, first asteroid to be discovered, is big enough for its gravity to pull it into a spherical shape. (That's why it qualifies as a dwarf planet.) But astronomers thought that it was no more than a static ball of rock. No. Recently, Ceres was spotted throwing out geysers of water vapor. This puts a new construction on data from the Dawn probe, which spotted grooves on the asteroid Vesta that looked like runnels from water.

More ancient pyramids (Discover Magazine)

They are still discovering pyramids. Granted, they are not as big as the ones we never lost track of, but they're pyramids. In Edfu, Egypt, archeologists have excavated a 4,600-year-old step pyramid, one of the oldest pyramids found yet. IT was probably constructed under the pharaoh Huni (2635-2610 BC) or Sneferu (2610-2590 BC).

More ancient pet cats (Discover Magazine)

Until now, the oldest signs of domesticated cats were remains from Egypt, about 4,000 years old. Now, cat bones 5,300 years old have been found in China. Furthermore, it was an old, toothless cat, who must have been coddled to survive as along as it did. A pet.

Mosquitoes in the rain (Science Magazine)

When it rains on a sticky summer evening, we often hope that at least it will knock the mosquitoes out of the air for a little. No such luck. High-speed photographic studies find the raindrops just knock the little beggars aside.

Neanderthal mules (Science Magazine)

We know with a fair degree of confidence that early modern humans interbred with Neanderthals, and picked up several genes. Some related to skin and hair color; some related to disease resistance. But not all were good things. New genetic studies indicate that, especially in male lines, Neanderthal descendants became less fertile over the generations, and so stopped generating. The researchers propose that this means modern humans and Neanderthals were on the border of being interfertile, almost as much so as horses and donkeys.

Stem cells in acid (New Scientist)

Stem cells can turn into any kind of tissue, so they hold out the promise of all kinds of regenerative therapy. But they're hard to come by, and one of the most obvious sources, embryos, is a political hot potato. But now researchers have a way of turning any cell into a stem cell, using a weak acid bath. They experimented on mouse tissue, and the resulting cells were good enough to clone from.

A little bit of peanut (New Scientist)

Modern children have food allergies more and more often—possibly because their immune systems are under-exercised by keeping them too clean as infants, but that's another story. One of the worst food allergies is to peanut. Now, nine out of ten test patients have been cured of their peanut allergy with a regime that exposes them to tiny but increasing amounts of peanut, letting their systems adapt gradually.

Good fever (Discover Magazine)

Fever makes us hot and achy, so we take medications to bring it down. Very natural, but maybe we should just tough it out in most cases. The heat helps kill off the germs that made us sick in the first place.

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