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Discoveries

Chili peppers on the menu for at least 6,000 years

-- A star like our sun, 4,000 light-years from earth, undergoes a colorful demise in this image, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the center. Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years. The colors correspond to material expelled by the star: Blue is helium, blue-green is oxygen, and red is nitrogen and hydrogen. -- A star like our sun, 4,000 light-years from earth, undergoes a colorful demise in this image, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the center. Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years. The colors correspond to material expelled by the star: Blue is helium, blue-green is oxygen, and red is nitrogen and hydrogen. (K. Noll/NASA/ESA)
February 19, 2007

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ARCHEOLOGY The cultivation of chili peppers originated in the Americas about 6,100 years ago, a new study finds. Every plant species has its own characteristic starch grain -- like a fingerprint -- that can be used as a marker to identify the plant species. Now, by routinely analyzing fossilized starch samples from seven archeological sites in Central and South America, ... (Full article: 500 words)

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