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NEW GREENHOUSE GAS CONCERNS

The fight against greenhouse gases might be getting harder. Two new studies say that ancient plants and flat-panel screen technology are contributing rising amounts of methane and nitrogen trifluoride to the atmosphere. Both pale in comparison to the global warming effects of carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels. But in the past couple of years, the two other gases have been increasing, according to the studies being published next week and next month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists are concerned because the increase is not accounted for in predictions for global warming and comes as a nasty surprise.

Famed scientist will step down

The superstar cosmologist who gave us grand theories on black holes and the nature of time will retire from his prestigious post at Cambridge University in England, but intends to continue his exploration of time and space. Stephen Hawking, 66, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a title once held by physicist Isaac Newton, will step down at the end of the academic year in September but continue as emeritus professor. He has held the post since 1979. School policy is that officeholders must retire at the end of the academic year in which they turn 67. Hawking will reach that milestone on Jan. 8.

Chess champion maintains lead

Game by game, world chess champion Viswanathan Anand inches closer to retaining his title. The eighth game of his championship match against Russian challenger Vladimir Kramnik ended in a draw on Friday in Bonn, Germany. The draw gave Anand, of India, a commanding 5.5 to 2.5 advantage in the 12-game match and left him needing only one point - one win, or two draws - from the last four games to keep the title.

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