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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Nov. 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM   |   Comments

Google Maps show non-existent island

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A South Pacific island roughly the size of Manhattan and clearly marked on online maps and marine charts isn't there, researchers say -- it doesn't exist.

The island, called Sandy Island by Google Maps and Sable Island on others and supposedly 60 square miles was nowhere to be seen when an Australian scientific research vessel sailed to -- and through -- its reported coordinates.

"We saw this mysterious island on all the scientific maps and weather maps but not on this one navigational chart that was on our ship," doctoral student Sabin Zahirovic on board the RV Southern Surveyor told CNN.

"So we decided to go see if it was actually there."

The Southern Surveyor sailed through the area where Google Maps and other charts said the island was supposed to be, he said.

"We were watching all of our depth-sounding equipment. Luckily for us the sea floor turned out to be very deep there," said Zahirovic.

A Google representative told CNN keeping up with changes and revisions is a "never-ending endeavor" and Google was always open to integrating new information received from users.


Rhino fossil shows animal cooked to death

MONTPELIER, France, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A fossil rhino skull shows the animal was "cooked to death" and preserved by a volcanic eruption 9.2 million years ago, French paleontologists say.

Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers from the University of Montpellier, France, said the fossil, found in Turkey, is that of a large two-horned rhino common in the Eastern Mediterranean region during that period.

Unusual features of the preserved skull suggest the animal died in extremely high temperatures in a volcanic flow similar to that of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in A.D. 79.

"The body was baked under a temperature approximating 400 degrees centigrade (750 degrees Fahrenheit), then dismembered within the pyroclastic flow, and the skull separated from body," the researchers led by Pierre-Olivier Antoine wrote.

Organic matter near an active volcanic eruption is usually quickly destroyed by the high temperatures making a fossil such as the prehistoric rhino extremely rare, they said.


New ATMs offer more complex transactions

CHICAGO, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A new generation of automatic teller machines capable of handling more complex transactions is proving popular with bank customers, experts say.

Some banks are installing ATMs that can handle transactions normally requiring a teller, such as cashing a check to the penny or withdrawing as much as $1,000 in any denominations, even as small as $1, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

"Our goal is to drive more transactions from the teller window to the computer screen or the ATM," William Demchak, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. president, said at a bank conference Nov. 13.

The degree to which PNC Bank can encourage customers to use such channels "represents significant potential cost reductions," he said.

Chase, which has installed its first "self-service banking kiosks" in Chicago, said customers appreciate the alternative to waiting in teller lines.

Most branches will eventually get the upgraded ATMs, which are similar to self-service supermarket checkouts or airline check-ins, Chase said.


North Korea said preparing missile launch

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- North Korea is preparing to launch a new ballistic missile the Japanese Kyodo news agency reported Friday, quoting Japanese government sources.

"Given their size and shape, the components transferred by train from an ammunition factory near Pyongyang appear to be for a three-stage rocket," Kyodo quoted sources in the Japanese secret services as saying.

The components are being transferred by train to the Tongchang-ri site in North Pyongan province, ITAR-Tass reported.

The missile, believed similar to one launched from Tongchang-ri in April 2012, may be launched by the end of the year, Japanese experts said.

"While no missile is set on a launch pad yet, there are activities likely to be related to rocket fueling," the Kyodo agency reported, citing information from a U.S. surveillance satellite.

The April launch was a failure as the Unha-3 carrier disintegrated moments after it was launched.

Resolution 1874 of the U.N. Security Council prohibits North Korea from ballistic missile activity and the April launch attempt brought international condemnation.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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