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SCIENCE Galactic midriff bulge

like a yolk in egg white, a galaxy's central bulge of gas and stars holds the key to future development. Yesterday, Hubble Space Telescope researchers presented the first detailed images of bulges in galaxies other than our own. Findings reported at a Washington press conference confirm astronomers' belief that the central bulge stabilizes a galaxy's development, including the surrounding star disk. For many intermediate-size spiral galaxies, bulges formed quickly and early in the universe's evolution, but now are old. In some spirals, however, small bulges formed early and could still be growing. Bulges may result from the collapse of a hydrogen gas cloud or by the merger of primitive star clusters, the researchers say. This new ability to study them in detail gives another perspective on cosmic evolution. - Robert C. Cowen

Raining diamonds in Neptune WASHINGTON -It could be raining diamonds on Neptune and Uranus, according to scientists at the University of California, Berkeley. Physicist Laura Robin Benedetti studied how methane reacts under certain conditions. Simulating conditions on the planets, the methane was first exposed to intense pressure, and then shot through with a laser to reach the sweltering temperature of 3,000 degrees kelvin (1 kelvin equals 1 degree Celsius). The methane broke down into two different forms of carbon, including flecks of diamonds.

Cloning the woolly mammoth FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ. - A Northern Arizona University geologist plans to clone a woolly mammoth from its DNA. The 11-foot-tall adult male mammoth, which roamed the earth about 23,000 years ago, will be taken from the Taimyr Peninsula, a Siberian ice field.

The cloning process involves taking DNA from the mammoth and putting it into an Asian elephant's egg that has been stripped of elephant genes. But experts say the probability of the DNA still being intact is unlikely.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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