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Lab-Coated Muggles Use Harry Potter to Study Brain

Harry Potter swoops around on his broom, faces the bully Malfoy and later runs into a three-headed dog. For scientists studying brain activity while reading, it's the perfect excerpt from the young wizard's many adventures to give their subjects.

Reading that section of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" activates some of the same regions in the brain that people use to perceive real people's actions and intentions. Scientists then map what a healthy brain does as it reads.

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DNA May Survive Trip to Suborbital Space and Back

DNA molecules attached to the outside of a rocket may be able survive a trip to suborbital space and back into the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high temperatures, according to a study Wednesday.

The experiment, carried out on the TEXUS-49 rocket mission in March 2011, "showed that DNA could be recovered from all application sites on the exterior of the rocket," according to the study published in PLOS ONE journal.

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Space Station's 3-D Printer Pops Out 1st Creation

The first 3-D printer in space has popped out its first creation.

The 3-D printer delivered to the International Space Station two months ago made a sample replacement part for itself this week. It churned out a new faceplate for the print head casing.

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Porpoise Massacre: Seals Fingered in Whodunnit

It seemed like an open-and-shut case -- a beach mystery that a 10-year-old detective with an ice cream and some time on his hands could figure out.

For the better part of a decade, hundreds of harbor porpoises washed up along the southeastern coastline of the North Sea.

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Doctor behind 'Free Radical' Aging Theory Dies

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed a prominent theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Harman, who worked into his mid-90s at the hospital in Omaha after a brief illness, medical center spokesman Tom O'Connor said.

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Sao Paulo Drought Issue for Global Concern

He cast his rod happily here for 30 years -- but where a river once teemed with fish, Brazilian fisherman Ernane da Silva these days stares out over a valley of weeds and bone dry, sun-parched land.

The southeastern state of Sao Paulo is suffering its worst drought in 80 years with scores of towns sounding the alarm, blaming increasing deforestation, unseasonably high temperatures and creeping urbanization.

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Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists.

Sambo, a 54-year-old female, had been a fixture at the Cambodian capital's Wat Phnom temple since 1980. 

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Vietnam Seizes over 1,000 Dead Endangered Sea Turtles

Vietnam's environmental police have seized a record haul of over 1,000 endangered sea turtles which were being prepared for illegal export to China, an official said Tuesday.

"The turtles were all dead," Le Hong Thai, an official of the Ministry of Public Security's environmental police department, told Agence France Presse. 

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China Insists Rich Nations Must do More at Lima Climate Meeting

Developed countries must do more than their less wealthy counterparts to tackle climate change, the world's biggest polluter China said Tuesday, reaffirming its longstanding position before a United Nations climate conference next month.

The meeting, to be held in the Peruvian capital Lima from December 1 to 12, is intended to pave the way for a global deal on cutting Earth-warming carbon emissions to be agreed next year in Paris as a replacement for the Kyoto treaty.

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Bee Populations Decline as they Lose Favorite Pollinating Plants

Bee populations have declined in recent decades mainly due to a loss of biodiversity causing the disappearance of their favorite pollinating plants, according to a study published Monday.

Researchers analyzed the pollen found on the bodies of insects from 57 different wild bee species collected before 1950 and held in natural history museums in the Netherlands. They found that the insects had certain preferred plants for pollinating.

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