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What Would It Take to Wipe Out All Life on Earth?

The first exoplanet was spotted in 1988. Since then more than 3,000 planets have been found outside our solar system, and it’s thought that around 20 percent of Sun-like stars have an Earth-like planet in their habitable zones. We don’t yet know if any of these host life – and we don’t know how life begins. But even if life does begin, would it survive?
Earth has undergone at least five mass extinctions in its history. It’s long been thought that an asteroid impact ended the dinosaurs blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Here's How Much Plastic Humanity Has Produced
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I want to say just one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?
Plastics.
There was indeed a great future in plastics back in 1967 when "The Graduate" came out, and those words ring true even today as plastic production continues to soar. Try imagining toothbrushes, dashboards, pens, video game controllers, the ephemera of our daily lives, made from wood or metal — plastics are indispensable.
Our appetite for cheap, durable materials is such that humans have produced 9.1 billi blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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A Delaware-sized Antarctic Iceberg Has Broken Into the Ocean
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After months of dangling on by a miles-thin thread of ice, an iceberg roughly the size of Delaware just calved off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf and began drifting out into the ocean.
Scientists say the complete breakthrough happened sometime between July 10 and today, July 12. It was spotted by NASA's Aqua MODIS satellite instrument. And after months of satellite photos showing the crack grow larger, the final break wasn't a surprise.
But this trillion ton iceberg, likely to be name blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Mississippi 'Clean Coal' Project Flops
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A once-promising clean coal plant in Mississippi is set to switch to natural gas instead.
The facility, run by utility provider Southern Company, is over budget and behind schedule, and has failed to achieve its goal of producing electricity from coal with significantly reduced carbon emissions. A review by the Mississippi Public Service Commission gave the plant until July 6 to begin planning its future and recommended a switch to natural gas, reports the New York Times. 
Small Success blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Solving the Centuries-old Mystery of Rare 'Bright Nights'
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On rare occasions throughout history, the darkness of night fails to materialize. Even with the moon darkened, the sky fills with a diffuse glow that seems to filter out of the very air itself. Such "bright nights" have been recorded back to the days of Pliny the Elder around 132 B.C., although explanations for the phenomenon have been lacking.
Using a special interferometer and data from the 1990s, two Canadian researchers say that they can explain why the sky seems so much brighter blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Persistent, Deadly Heat at the Equator Could Be the Norm by 2100
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Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, the temperature kept some planes grounded.
Phoenix was projected to reach of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a near-record for the desert city, and hot enough that small planes cannot generate enough lift to fly. Phoenix and other cities have experienced similar conditions before, but only rarely—for now. The grounded passengers got to sit inside an air-conditioned terminal, at least. But in other parts of the world where temperatures are set to soar regularly above 1 blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Australian Scientists Dredged the Deep Seafloor — Here's What they Found
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In a dark world of crushing pressures and barren landscapes, creatures we've never seen before, and, likely, couldn't even imagine, are swimming.
The ocean's abyssal zone begins over two miles beneath surface; it's so deep that light never touches it. What little we know about it comes from sediment dredged up from the seafloor and brief snapshots captured by remotely operated submarines. This makes it a gold mine for marine biologists, for whom each rare glimpse beneath the waves offers blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Participate in Citizen Science to Celebrate World Oceans Day
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This article was originally posted on August 21, 2013 but we thought this project provided a great way to celebrate World Oceans Day even if you can't make it to the beach!
Calling all citizen scientists! It doesn’t matter where you are. You can still be an ‘honorary’ diver to help with this project. The idea is simply to look at seafloor photos on your computer and catalogue what you find.
Explore the Sea Floor is part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) using their state-of- blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
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Diary of a Changing Planet
Federally funded long-term ecological research sites chronicle a planet in flux. discovermagazine.com/galler...
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Blustery Winds Push European Energy Prices...Negative
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Recent weather conditions in Europe have been a boon to the renewable energy grid there, pushing prices briefly negative overnight as high winds forced turbines into overdrive.
Energy prices in the U.K. dipped into the negatives for five hours on June 7, according to Argus, an industry analytics firm, and Danish wind farms supplied more than 100 percent of the country's needs, both situations indicating a need for utility companies to sell off excess power. This type of energy surplus, wh blogs.discovermagazine.com/...