Virgin Galactic is developing a suborbital spacecraft to carry spaceflight participants to about 65 miles above Earth. The craft, SpaceShipOne, is carried high above the Earth by a special plane called The White Knight, then launched. Courtesy of Scaled Composites hide caption

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Bates and his research team used pingpong balls and red pipe cleaners to model the "hairy spherical block copolymer particles." The actual spheres are roughly 1 million times smaller, and each contains about 200 polymer molecules, represented by the red pipe cleaners. Courtesy of Frank Bates hide caption

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A dwarf minke whale swims near the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say whale dung can help feed hungry fish near the surface of the ocean. Kike Calvo/AP hide caption

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A National Science Foundation artist's drawing shows the inner four planets orbiting Gliese 581, a red dwarf star just 20 light-years from Earth. The newly discovered planet, in the foreground, has a 37-day orbit and, like Earth, is distant enough from the star for liquid water to exist. Lynette Cook hide caption

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Albert Einstein's theory of relativity challenges how we perceive time in our everyday lives. Now, researchers have a device precise and accurate enough to measure its effects in the laboratory. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Basking sharks have been added to the "species of concern" list, and scientists hope to learn more about how the giant fish behaves in Pacific waters. Gregory B. Skomal/NOAA hide caption

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Oxygen is carried by red blood cells, but a specific mutation can cause the cells to take on a sickle shape and make them inefficient at carrying oxygen.  This highly adaptive mutation spread through Africa once malaria became a problem there. EM Unit, UCL Medical School, Royal Free Campus/Wellcome Images hide caption

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Visions of the North Blog

Robert O'Rourke was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in late 2006.  The lung disease causes scarring in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. There's no cure yet, and researchers aren't certain what causes the disease. Courtesy of Robert O'Rourke hide caption

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Liam, a capuchin monkey, will respond differently to a simple test if another monkey receives a more favorable food reward for performing the same task. Laurent Pretot hide caption

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Astronauts will spacewalk on Wednesday in an attempt to fix a broken cooling pump aboard the International Space Station. Though a second pump is currently working, NASA officials are worried about the possibility of it shutting down before the broken pump is fixed. NASA hide caption

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