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Science Briefing

High hopes for corn genome map / Large Hadron Collider powers back up / Galileo's missing bones are found

November 21, 2009

High hopes for corn genome map

Scientists this week revealed the genome sequence of corn. Agronomists hope the information buried in corn's 32,000 genes and 2.3 billion letters of DNA will help sustain the century-long improvement in yield and hardiness into an era of climate change and, possibly, food shortage.

The sequencing, published Thursday in a package of research papers in Science and the Public Library of Science's PLoS Genetics, revealed that an astonishing 85% of the corn genome is made up of "transposable elements" -- short stretches of DNA that show evidence of having moved around in corn's 10 chromosomes at some point in evolution.

Atom smasher powers back up

Scientists switched on the world's largest atom smasher for the first time since the $10-billion machine suffered a spectacular failure more than a year ago. Beams of protons circulated late Friday in the Large Hadron Collider, near Geneva, for the first time since it was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research hopes to begin new scientific experiments in January, giving insights into dark matter and what gives mass to other particles, and to show what matter was in the microseconds of rapid cooling after the Big Bang.

Missing Galileo bones are found

An art collector has found a tooth, thumb and finger of Galileo, Florence's History of Science Museum announced on Friday.

The body parts, along with another finger and a vertebra, were cut from the Italian scientist's corpse by scientists and historians during a burial ceremony 95 years after his 1642 death.

The newly found relics had passed from one collector to another until they went missing in 1905.

-- times staff and wire reports

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