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Magma Clue to Earth's Super-Volcanoes

Geologists on Sunday reported insights into super-volcanoes, the brooding, enigmatic giants of Earth's crust whose eruptions are as catastrophic as they are rare.

The buoyancy of molten rock, or magma, is the key explanation as to why these monsters blow their stack, according to the report in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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Florida Space Center Home to Secret Spacecraft

Kennedy Space Center will be the testing site for a top-secret Air Force space plane.

Boeing is working on the spacecraft, and the company announced Friday that it will convert a former space shuttle building for the X-37B orbital test vehicle program.

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First Taiwan-Born Panda Charms Media

The first Taiwan-born giant panda cub was unveiled to the media on Saturday in a warm up for her highly-anticipated public debut next week.

Yuan Zai agilely climbed up and down for most of her 30-minute media preview inside an exhibition enclosure, as mother Yuan Yuan sat lazily aside munching bamboos.

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Chinese Ship Used in Antarctic Rescue Stuck in Ice

A Chinese icebreaker that went to the aid of a Russian ship stuck in heavy floes in Antarctica has now itself become trapped by ice, officials said Saturday, amid anger about the impact of the rescue on research.

The Xue Long, which on Thursday used its helicopter to ferry dozens of passengers on the stranded Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy to the safety of an Australian vessel, has been unable to free itself.

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U.S. Opens Door to New Herbicide-Resistant Seeds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture opened the door Friday to commercial sales of corn and soybean seeds genetically engineered to resist the weed killer 2,4-D, which is best known as an ingredient in the Vietnam War-era herbicide Agent Orange.

The U.S. military stopped using Agent Orange in 1971, and it has not been produced since the 1970s. Scientists don't believe 2,4-D, which is legal and commonly used by gardeners and some farmers, was responsible for the health problems linked to Agent Orange.

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Geckos in Space: Novel Robot Takes a Step to Cosmos

A wall-crawling robot inspired by the gecko has taken a small but important step towards a future in space, scientists said on Thursday.

The tiny legged prototype could be the forerunner of automatons which crawl along the hulls of spacecraft, cleaning and maintaining them, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

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Australia Endures Hottest Year on Record

Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2013, the Bureau of Meteorology said Friday, enduring the longest heatwave ever recorded Down Under as well as destructive bushfires.

"2013 was Australia's warmest year since records began in 1910," the bureau said in its annual climate statement, released as inland areas of the country suffer scorching heatwave conditions.

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Relief as Harsh Antarctic Rescue Mission Ends Safely

Australian authorities expressed relief Friday after 52 passengers were safely rescued by helicopter from a Russian ship stranded in Antarctic ice, saying the dramatic mission had been difficult and complex.

Officials tasked with freeing the scientific expedition on the Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since December 24, succeeded in flying them out Thursday in an on-off rescue operation.

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Study Pinpoints Likely Site of Next Big China Quake

It is impossible to predict when the next big earthquake will hit, but researchers said Thursday they have a good idea of where in China such a temblor is likely.

The hot zone is a 60-kilometer (37-mile) segment of the Longmenshan fault which divides the Tibetan Plateau from the Sichuan Basin in southwestern China, said the study in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

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27 Eagle Deaths in Utah Caused by West Nile Virus

The mystery illness that has killed 27 bald eagles in Utah this month appears to be West Nile Virus, state officials said Tuesday.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said in a statement that laboratory tests done on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile Virus.

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