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Part of Sun Turns into Stormy 'Benevolent Monster'

After years of quiet, the sun is coming alive with solar storms in a big way.

The sun shot off a flare Thursday afternoon from a region that scientists are calling a "benevolent monster."

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Warbling Wrens Don't Just Tweet, they Sing Duets

They may not be Sonny and Cher, but certain South American birds sing duets, taking turns as the tune goes along.

"Calling it a love song is probably too strong a word," says researcher Eric S. Fortune of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But, he adds, the little wrens shift their heads around and move closer together as they sing.

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Biggest Jump Ever Seen in Global Warming Gases

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

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No Risk from Fission at Japan Nuke Plant

A Japanese utility operator has denied any problematic nuclear reactions at a tsunami-hit power plant, saying a radioactive gas in one of the damaged reactors came from spontaneous fission that occurs in any idle reactor.

The operator this week found radioactive xenon, initially hinting unexpected nuclear fission and injected boric acid as a precaution against further nuclear reactions.

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Time for Change? GMT Could be History

Leading scientists from around the world are meeting in Britain from Thursday to consider a proposal that could eventually see Greenwich Mean Time relegated to a footnote in history.

For more than 120 years GMT has been the international standard for timekeeping, but it is now under threat from a new definition of time itself based not on the rotation of the Earth, but on atomic clocks.

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New Look at Fossils Yields Oldest Modern Europeans

A fresh look at fossilized remains has turned up a surprise: the earliest modern people in Europe.

From stone tools and other artifacts, scientists have long suspected that the earliest populations of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, settled the continent between 42,000 and 44,000 years ago.

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Whales Off California Coast Draw Crowds, Warning

The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday monitored the waters off Santa Cruz, where a pod of whales has settled unusually close to shore drawing crowds and threatening the safety of kayakers and other boaters trying to get a look at the creatures.

The humpback whales, each measuring about the length of a school bus, have come about a mile from land in search of food.

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China Completes Nation's First Space Docking

China took a crucial step towards fulfilling its ambition to set up a manned space station on Thursday by completing its first successful docking high above Earth, state media reported.

The Shenzhou VIII spacecraft joined onto the Tiangong-1 experimental module just after 1.36 am (17:36 GMT Wednesday), silently coupling more than 343 kilometers above the Earth's surface, the Xinhua news agency said.

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English Tremors Blamed on Shale 'Fracking'

The only company in Britain using hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from shale rock said Wednesday that the controversial technique probably did trigger earth tremors in April and May.

But a report commissioned by Cuadrilla Resources, which is drilling for gas in the area outside the northwestern English coastal resort town of Blackpool, cautioned that the tremors, measuring 1.9 and 2.8 on the Richter scale — were due to an unusual combination of geology and operations and were unlikely to happen again.

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Bangladesh, Russia Sign Nuclear Power Plant Deal

Bangladesh and Russia signed a deal Wednesday to build a nuclear power plant in the energy-starved South Asian nation.

Bangladesh's junior Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman said he and Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation Director-General Sergei Kiriyenko signed the agreement to build the nation's first such plant at Rooppur in Pabna district, 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of the capital, Dhaka.

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