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Top stories summarized by our editors
2/20/2018

Researchers used modern technology to learn more about a series of funerary portraits found with mummies created during the Roman era in Egypt. The materials used to create the portraits, on display at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, came from such places as central Europe, Spain and Greece, suggesting a sophisticated trade network.

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Science News
2/20/2018

Plants may have been on Earth as early as 500 million years ago, much earlier than had once been thought, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests. "Our results show the ancestor of land plants was alive in the middle Cambrian Period, which was similar to the age for the first known terrestrial animals," said Mark Puttick, a researcher on the study.

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BBC
2/20/2018

It's fungus gnats, not snails, that help pollinate the cast iron plant in the wild, and they appear to be attracted by the plant's funguslike odor, according to researchers who observed the plant in nature. While the flowers of the cast iron plant offer no food for the gnats, they appear to trick them into thinking they are a fungus, the study published in Ecology suggests.

2/20/2018

Vampire bats have specialized genes and gut microbes that help them survive on blood alone, despite its lack of nutrients, a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution suggests. "The data suggests that there is a close evolutionary relationship between the gut microbiome and the genome of the vampire bat for adaptation to sanguivory," Marie Zepeda Mendoza, the study's author.

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BBC
2/20/2018

A thick, viscous material could be lurking beneath Pluto's crust, cooked by heat and pressure, according to a presentation given at the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. "Organic matter, when you cook it, the end product is either amorphous carbon or graphite," said Washington University planetary scientist Bill McKinnon, who made the presentation.

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Space
2/20/2018

Children who were born preterm had IQ test scores about 13 points lower on average between ages 5 and 20, compared with those born full-term, Dutch researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics. The findings, based on a review of 71 studies involving 12,907 youths, also tied every week of earlier preterm birth to a 1.26-point decline in childhood IQ scores.

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Reuters
2/20/2018

The Canadian government has awarded $2.1 million in funding to 13 universities and nonprofits looking into contaminants in the oceans. And additional $1 million will go to a collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ocean Pollution Research Program at the Vancouver Aquarium that will focus on microplastics.

2/20/2018

NASA has awarded a $500,000 grant to Texas Tech University to study recyclable wastewater that could be used for long space missions. Such a system could save the space agency an enormous amount of money, researchers say.

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NASA, Texas Tech University
2/20/2018

A high-school student in Pennsylvania was the first female student to enroll in a welding program in her district. Now she is learning about welding firsthand at a steel fabrication company.

2/20/2018

Western Iowa Tech Community College in May will graduate its first cohort of students from a two-year audio and video engineering program. "The vast majority of this is applied learning," said instructor Chris Mansfield.

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Iowa Tech Community College