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Scientists discover 'Earth-like' planet

The new planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, was discovered using NASA's Kepler telescope. Credit: NASA

Scientists scouring the sky have discovered an 'Earth-like' planet in the habitable zone.

The new planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, was discovered using NASA's Kepler telescope, which was launched in March 2009 to search for Earth-sized planets in our corner of the Milky Way Galaxy.

A habitable zone planet orbits its star at a distance where any water on the planet's surface is likely to stay liquid. Since liquid water is critical to life on Earth, many astronomers believe the search for extraterrestrial life should focus on planets where liquid water occurs.

"Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are," astronomer Stephen Kane said. "We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets."


Tyrannosaurus Rex's 'smaller cousin' discovered

A new species of dinosaur described as Tyrannosaurus Rex's "smaller cousin from the north" has been discovered.

An analysis of 70-million-year-old fossilised skull remains discovered in northern Alaska has shown them to be from a new pygmy Tyrannosaurus, according to research published in the journal PLOS ONE.

In this graphic, A is the Nanuqsaurus hoglundi and B is the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Scientists examined fragments of the skull roof, maxilla and jaw, and concluded that the species, named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, had an adult skull length of 25 inches (63.5 centimetres), less than half the size of the 60 inch (152.4 centimetre) skull of a T Rex.


Study 'throws doubt on benefits of the Atkins diet'

A study that claims high-protein diets can be as bad as a 20-a-day smoking habit throws doubt over the long-term benefits of the popular Atkins diet and the Paleo diet.

Dr Valter Longo, Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology, said:

People should understand the distinction and be able to make the decision about what they eat.

Some proteins are better for you than others, for example plant-based proteins like beans. Vegans seem to do better in studies than those who eat animal based proteins.

Red meat always comes out top as the worst and that's probably due to its other components.

But there is some good news according to Dr Longo who added, "There is no evidence that fish is bad for you".

What is a high-protein diet?

A study that claims a high-protein diet can be as dangerous as smoking 20 cigarettes a day defined "high protein" as deriving at least 20% of daily calories from it.

The researchers recommend a middle-aged person consume around 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight, per day.

They said the most harmful are animal-based proteins such as:

  • Red meat
  • Milk
  • Cheese

A "low-protein" diet includes less than 10% of your daily calorie intake from protein.

High-protein diet 'as bad as 20-a-day smoking habit'

A high-protein diet could be as dangerous as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, according to a new study.

Research from the University of Southern California shows that high levels of dietary animal protein in those under 65 were associated with a fourfold increase in their risk of death from cancer compared to those on a low protein diet.

The study suggests a high-protein diet could be as dangerous as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Credit: PA Wire

This increased mortality risk is also associated with a 20-a-day smoking habit.

The study of 6,318 adults over the age of 50, found that protein-lovers were 74% more susceptible to early death from any cause than their low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes.

Scientists wake up 30,000 year-old virus

The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was found under 30m of frost in north-eastern Siberia. Credit: Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel, CNRS/AMU

A virus frozen in Siberia for around 30,000 years has been brought back to life after being uncovered by scientists.

The discovery of the virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, under 30m (100ft) of frost has prompted fears that other hidden strains such as smallpox could be exposed by the effects of global warming.

France's National Centre for Scientific Research, which was responsible for the finding in the Chukotka autonomous region, said in a release on its website that the findings "have important implications in terms of public health risks".

"The re-emergence of viruses considered to be eradicated, such as smallpox, whose replication process is similar to Pithovirus, is no longer the domain of science fiction," the organisation said. "The probability of this type of scenario needs to be estimated realistically."

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