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Seth Borenstein

Hot ocean water blamed for ancient mass extinction

WASHINGTON—Scientists think they've figured out the falling dominoes that led to Earth's largest mass extinction and worry that human-caused climate change puts the planet on a vaguely similar path.

Some 250 million years ago, about 90 percent of sea life and 70 percent of land life went extinct in what is now called the “Great Dying.”

Scientists fear non-pest insects in decline

OXFORD, Pa.—A staple of summer—swarms of bugs—seems to be a thing of the past.

And that's got scientists worried.

Pesky mosquitoes, disease-carrying ticks, crop-munching aphids, and cockroaches are doing just fine. But the more beneficial flying insects of summer—native bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs, lovebugs, mayflies, and fireflies—appear to be less abundant.

Milky Way teeming with black holes

WASHINGTON—The centre of our galaxy is teeming with black holes, sort of like a Times Square for strange super gravity objects, astronomers have discovered.

For decades, scientists theorized that circling in the centre of galaxies, including ours, were lots of stellar black holes—collapsed giant stars where the gravity is so strong even light doesn't get out.

U.S. air pollution reductions level off

DENVER—For decades America's air was getting cleaner as levels of a key smog ingredient steadily dropped.

That changed about seven years ago when pollution reductions levelled off, a new study found.

This means when tighter federal air quality standards go into effect later this year, many more cities may find themselves on the dirty air list.