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Mars probe Phoenix digs up first sample of Martian soil Nearly two weeks after its historic landing, the US Mars probe Phoenix has scooped up its first sample of Martian soil and begun analyzing it for water and organic compounds, a NASA official said.

A chunk of permafrost-like soil of the Martian arctic was scooped up Thursday by the probe's 2.35 meter (7.7 foot) titanium and aluminum backhoe-like extension. It now lies inside the scoop, poised over an instrument called the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA, where it will be dumped and sealed in for several days of analysis.

Phoenix is scheduled to collect two more samples of Martian soil over the next few days. One will be analyzed by optical microscope, the other by chemical analysis.

The scientists stressed that the Phoenix probe is not equipped to test Martian soil for fossils or living microbes.

Since landing on May 25, the spacecraft has already compiled photographs of the stark reddish Martian north pole terrain surrounding it.

 Study Finds Human-Robot Attachment A new study shows how deeply some Roomba owners become attached to the robotic vacuums, and suggests there's a measure of public readiness to accept robots in the house even flawed ones. They give them nicknames, worry when they signal for help and sometimes even treat them like a trusted pet.

Study finds possible link between cancer and power lines It is something that has been debated for years; whether living next to high-voltage power lines can lead to cancer.

20-year ban on trade in ivory African states have called for a 20-year ban on trade in ivory to protect the continent's elephants from poachers and possible extinction in the wild.

Robot twitcher to scan skies for rare bird The world's first robot twitcher has joined the hunt for the ivory-billed woodpecker. The device's inventors hope it will come up with the first hard evidence for the elusive bird's existence, and say it could monitor other rare species.

Porcupines become fashion victims in S.Africa  South Africa's porcupines are being slaughtered so their quills can be turned into tourist souvenirs.
Porcupines are being hunted wholesale for the fashion market and nobody has any idea how many are being killed.

Non-GMO: Hottest Food Trend Consumers of any age can improve their health with one change. "Avoid eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," says expert Jeffrey M. Smith, who points to evidence of mounting health risks associated with gene-spliced foods.

Study: U.S. Media Overlooked Major Humanitarian Stories in 2006 Last year millions of people in many countries lost their lives as a result of wars, violence, disease, and hunger, yet the "Top Ten" most underreported stories of 2006 highlighted by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, accounted for just 7.2 of the 14,512 minutes the three major television networks devoted to their nightly newscasts in 2006.

Jailed for blogging In a cramped jail cell in Alexandria, Egypt, sits a soft-spoken 22-year-old student. Kareem Amer was sent to prison for over a month for allegedly "defaming the president of Egypt" and "highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt." Where did Amer commit these supposed felonies? On his weblog.

Historical UK ship passenger records available online for first time UK National Archives is enabling online access to the first comprehensive database of passenger lists from ships departing the UK on long-distance voyages to destinations including North America, Australia, India and South Africa between 1890 and 1960. Genealogists will get very excited.

The construction of a giant mirror to light up a Bondo, Swiss mountain village whose 198 residents are deprived of sunlight for three months each year, is being considered.

Russian shock at 'gagged' babies Russian prosecutors are investigating allegations that hospital staff in Yekaterinburg gagged babies because they did not want to hear them crying.

Making electricity from hog waste Progress Energy, the Raleigh-based electric utility, will evaluate the feasibility of making electricity from hog waste, according to the N.C. Pork Council. The pilot project will be conducted with participation from hog farms throughout the state, according to a news release from the organization.


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Egyptian, Chinese Companies to Build Rigs in Egypt
Meeting in Cairo, three Egyptian and one Chinese companies in the oil and gas sector signed a contract to set up a joint venture to manufacture oil rigs in Egypt.

Alternative-energy ideas await approval Coming soon - or maybe never - to a light socket near you: Electricity generated by cow manure or the churning of the Gulf Stream.

Alternative energy profiles Wind Power: Companies across the country are investing in wind power...Nuclear Power.. Ethanol.. improving automobile emissions...

Mysterious rings found at tomb of Chinese only empress Chinese archaeologists have found a group of huge rings at the site of the 1,300-year-old tomb of Wu Zetian, China's only empress, but they are unable to explain their existence. At least 10 rings appeared on aerial photographs

Pagan roots run deep beneath our Christmas rituals  It is not clear exactly when the celebration of Advent was first introduced into the Church, but some theories suggest it is related to the feast of the winter solstice that was dear to our pagan ancestors.

Two chimpanzees return to sanctuary Two chimpanzees who have appeared on numerous movies and TV shows have been removed from a San Bernardino ranch and will be retired to Florida. The chimps named Sable and Cody should arrive in New Mexico today. A third chimp, Angel, will be directly shipped to Florida.

Too Mellow For Our Predatory World: Flight Behavior Of Marine Iguanas Marine iguanas on the Galapagos Islands live without predators - at least this was the case up until 150 years ago. Since then they have been confronted with cats and dogs on some islands of the Archipelago. For scientists, they are therefore a suitable model of study in order to discover if such generally tame animals are capable of adapting their behavior and endocrine stress response to novel predation threats.

Scientists embark on marine census Surprising finds arise in quest to unlock oceans' mysteries Peering deep into the sea, scientists are finding creatures more mysterious than many could have imagined.

Ancient Irish Tomb Big Draw at Winter Solstice The solstice is the most sought-after time to visit the monument. So in 2000 the visitor center switched to a lottery system for tickets, deeming luck-of-the-draw fairer than a ten-year-long wait list. 



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