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Paleontologists can still hear the echo of the death knell that drove the dinosaurs and many other organisms to extinction following an asteroid collision at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago.

"The evolutionary legacy of the end-Cretaceous extinction is very much with us. In fact, it can be seen in virtually every marine community, every lagoon, every continental shelf in the world," said University of Chicago paleontologist David Jablonski. It is, he said, "sort of an echo of the big bang for evolutionary biology."

We hear a lot about 'going green' these days and it seems even the Universe can't endure one more moment of Al Gore putting his hands together, as if in prayer, and guilting us into investing in carbon trading companies, one of which he happens to own stock in.

As a peace offering, the cosmos is offering comet Lulin, which is making an appearance in the nighttime sky this month - and it's green.  Literally. Don Yeomans of JPL, manager for NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, answers a few questions about this odd comet.

comet lulin

Sky chart showing comet Lulin on Feb. 24, 2009. Image credit: NASA/JPL

A new study says that kids who are allowed to watch R-rated movies are much more likely to believe it's easy to get a cigarette than those who aren't allowed to watch such films. 

The researchers found that parental permission to watch R-rated movies was one of the strongest predictors of the perception that cigarettes are available, about as strong as having friends that smoked. If allowed to watch R-rated films, nonsmokers were almost twice as likely, and smokers were almost three times as likely to say it would be easy for them to get cigarettes. 
Scientists have identified a small family of lab-made proteins that neutralize a broad range of influenza A viruses, including the H5N1 avian virus, the 1918 pandemic influenza virus and seasonal H1N1 flu viruses.

These human monoclonal antibodies, identical infection-fighting proteins derived from the same cell lineage, also were found to protect mice from illness caused by H5N1 and other influenza A viruses. Because large quantities of monoclonal antibodies can be made relatively quickly, after more testing, these influenza-specific monoclonal antibodies potentially could be used in combination with antiviral drugs to prevent or treat the flu during an influenza outbreak or pandemic.
Maybe you just want to wait until you can control television with your thoughts or even have it beamed directly into your brain but if you don't mind interim steps, and won't feel vaguely silly with two hands pointed at a screen, the iPoint 3D may be just what you want next.

The iPoint 3D allows people to communicate with a 3-D display through simple gestures – without touching it and without 3-D glasses or a data glove. What until now has only been seen in science fiction will be presented at CeBIT from March 3-8 by experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI (Hall 9, Stand B36).
Here are some quick facts about the Earth-orbiting satellite, scheduled to launch on Feb. 24, 2009. 

-- It will study carbon dioxide sources (where it comes from) and sinks (where it is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored). Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming. The new data will help scientists more accurately forecast global climate change. 

-- Data collected by the OCO mission may help policymakers and leaders make more informed decisions to ensure climate stability and retain our quality of life.