Need office space ? in outer space?

NASA opened its astronaut-application website with applications accepted through Feb. 18. Contenders need to be U.S. citizens with a bachelor's degree in science, math or engineering. Expect intense competition: More than 6,000 applied for NASA's last astronaut class in 2013, with only eight picked. It's an elite club, numbering only in the 300s since the original Mercury 7 chosen in 1959.

Future astronauts will have four spacecraft at their disposal: the International Space Station, two commercial crew capsules to get there, and NASA's Orion spacecraft for eventual Mars trips. Pay is between $66,000 and $145,000 a year, and you'll have to move to Houston. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said this group will help "blaze the trail" to Mars.

Order matters for directions

There are many ways to give directions, but some formats are more effective than others, a study said.

The report in Frontiers in Psychology finds that order matters: Identifying a hidden person in a picture is generally easier when a landmark is mentioned first. Generally, when participants heard a highly visible landmark mentioned first and the target second, they needed less time to find the object or figure than those who heard the description in the reverse order.

a Poor Cousin to Triceratops

Paleontologists have discovered a distant relative of Triceratops in western China that lived 160 million years ago. Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis, a plant-eater, stood on its hind legs and was about the size of a spaniel.

Hualianceratops and another dinosaur from the region, Yinlong downsi, are the two oldest known ceratopsians, so-called horned dinosaurs, although neither of the two had horns. but Triceratops, which lived in North America about 65 million years ago, is the best known of the species.

"These small dinosaurs were related to Triceratops, but very distantly," said Catherine Forster, a paleontologist at George Washington University.

The 160-millon-years-old species challenges previous versions of the horned dinosaur family tree. Before, scientists thought that Yinlong was the most primitive member. But Hualianceratops lived at the same time. Instead of having a simple tree, it seems, ceratopsians already had multiple branches by the time these creatures lived.

prize offered to fix traffic snarls

Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen is teaming with the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer a $50 million prize to the winner of a "Smart City" competition to solve traffic snarls. The prize, open to midsize cities, will go to the city that develops "the most innovative, forward-thinking plan to harness technology and re-imagine how people move." Among the options are autonomous vehicles that reduce the number of collisions, cars that communicate with each other and wired infrastructure that can keep traffic flowing.

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