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Cosmic flame, plenty of planets, giant ice-age germ returns, "Yessir," etc.

A solar prominence with Earth shown to scale
A solar prominence with Earth shown to scale

A flame larger than the world (NASA)

This photo of a solar prominence includes an inset image of Earth, to scale. Perhaps comforting to comtemplate all that fire, here at the end of a harsh winter. Perhaps not.

Plenty of planets (Science Daily, Discover)

Last time, I mentioned the more than 700 planets discovered with the Kepler orbital telescope. Looking through such data for patterns, astronomers conclude that essentially all red dwarf stars have planets, and about a quarter of them have planets orbiting in the "habitable zone," where the temperature lets water be liquid. And red dwarfs are far and away the commonest kind of star.

Giant ice-age germ returns (Science Magazine)

Dig up a frozen mammoth and you get more than just the mammoth. For instance, paleontologists recently found that, if they warmed up a 32,000-year-old sample of frozen soil, they got giant viruses (as big as bacteria, visible through an optical microscope) that were still alive and capable of infecting amoebae.

The middle of the sea (

People have worried for some time about declining fish stocks. There is cause for worry, but there is also a bright spot. It turns out there are huge, previously undiscovered populations of fish living in the middle layers of the ocean, between the surface and the bottom.

"Yessir" (Medical Xpress)

In general, people think of women as more cooperative than men (if they don't think too hard), what with men being so competitive and women being so nurturing. Well, maybe sometimes. But a Harvard study found that, in a hierarchical situation, women cooperate less across ranks than men do, at least in an academic environment like Harvard.

Greens now, meat later - or not (NPR, New Scientist)

A new study at University of Southern California is making waves with the idea that too much animal protein is bad for you, raising cancer risk, especially in middle age. And most of us are in the "too much" range. Later in life, though, more protein is a good idea. This study has been strongly criticized by dieticians at Oxford and St. George's Hospital, London.

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