12/23/2005:

Intermediate Word:  harlequin (a) woman of the night  (b) heavy crossbow  (c) clown's baggy clothes  (d) classical buffoon
Difficult Word: - conventicle - (a)
convocation of nuns  (b) central hall of a convent  (c) secret recusant meeting  (d) baffled shipboard louver for air exchange

Astronomers Link Old Stars And Mysterious Cosmic Explosions - SpaceDaily  For several decades astronomers have known that two types exist - long ones that last for tens or hundreds of seconds, and short bursts, which last a few milliseconds to a second. Intense research over the last decade has shown that long bursts are the death throes of massive stars in distant, young, and vigorously star forming galaxies. Theorists have long suspected that short gamma-ray bursts are the end product of a class of binary stars composed of two old neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole, which slowly approach each other as their orbit shrinks over hundreds of millions of years. "Eventually, the two objects get so close together that they just shred each other apart in a cataclysmic explosion." The next stage in the study of short bursts is to locate and study a large number of these objects.    
ESA Accelerates Towards A New Space Thruster - SpaceDaily  ESA has confirmed the principle of a new space thruster that may ultimately give much more thrust than today's electric propulsion techniques. Researchers Christine Charles and Rod Boswell at the Australian National University in Canberra, first created plasma double layers in their laboratory in 2003 and realised their accelerating properties could enable new spacecraft thrusters. This led the group to develop a prototype called the Helicon Double Layer Thruster. It could potentially deliver many times more thrust at higher powers of up to 100 kW whilst giving a similar fuel efficiency.    

Highest Energy Photons Ever Detected As Emanating From Milky Way Equatorr - SpaceDaily  Physicists at nearly a dozen research institutions, including New York University, have discovered evidence for very high energy gamma rays emitting from the Milky Way, marking the highest energies ever detected from the galactic equator. These emissions are understood to be produced by interactions of cosmic-ray particles with the abundant interstellar medium near the galactic equator. Previously, some researchers had speculated that additional mechanisms were needed to explain the large number of particles observed at high energies. However, the measurements by Milagro can be understood by assuming a cosmic ray energy spectrum near the galactic center similar to that in the solar system and the standard properties of particle interactions.     




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