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Science and Technology News, Science Articles | Discover Magazine

Science news, articles, current events and future views on technology, space, environment, health, and medicine.



Elite Athletes Get a Performance Boost From Special Gut Microbes  

Researchers at Harvard Medical have found that elite athletes like marathon runners have more of a gut microbe, Veillonella, that gives them an endurance boost. They're working on turning it into a probiotic so us slowpokes can get a boost, too. (Credit: lzf/Shutterstock) More and more, researchers have been studying how your gut microbes might be making you sick. Scientists have linked these vital bugs to everything from schizophrenia, to autism, allergies and obesity. But what do the

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2019-06-25 19:23:18



Want to Raise Rational Kids? Try Teaching Your Toddler Verbs  

(Credit: Travelerpix/Shutterstock) What were your first words? Odds are, if you grew up in the United States speaking English, these words were nouns. Nouns like mama, dada, a favorite animal or food (or "lawnmower," if my father is to be believed). But in languages like Korean and Mandarin Chinese, babies' first words are more often verbs like "go" and "want." New research suggests these differences in early word learning might lead toddlers down different paths toward underst...

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2019-06-25 16:34:34



The Quixotic Quest to Birth a Baby Northern White Rhino  

Humans drove northern white rhinos to functional extinction. Now human fertility tech may pull the species back from the brink.

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2019-06-25 13:41:37



A Genetic Ghost Hunt: What Ancient Humans Live On In Our DNA?  

(Credit: Yulliii/Shutterstock) When the Neanderthal genome was first sequenced in 2010 and compared with ours, scientists noticed that genes from Homo neanderthalensis also showed up in our own DNA. The conclusion was inescapable: Our ancestors mated and reproduced with another lineage of now-extinct humans who live on today in our genes. When the Denisovan genome was sequenced soon after, in 2012, it revealed similar instances of interbreeding. We now know that small population

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2019-06-25 13:06:46



History of Mars Impacts Leaves Hope for Ancient Martian Life  

If large impacts ceased early in Mars' history, that would leave plenty of time for life to have formed in its ancient oceans. (Credit: NASA/GSFC) When the solar system was young, some scientists suspect it was too wild and raucous a place for life to develop. Earth, Mars, and the other planets were all being pelted by massive asteroids and rocky debris. Some of those rocks might have delivered the very water that later made life possible. But the unrelenting impacts may have made the...

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2019-06-25 12:35:16



These Monkeys Have An Archaeological Record 3,000 Years Old  

A capuchin using a stone to break open its next meal. (Credit: Lisa Crawford/Shutterstock) Among the rocky monoliths of Brazil's Serra da Capivara National Park, wild monkeys crack cashews and seeds with an array of stone tools. Now, caches of ancient monkey tools reveal the primates started the culinary tradition 3,000 years ago. This archaeological record also shows they adapted their food processing tactics over time. It's the first time tool use stretching back thousands o...

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2019-06-25 12:24:24



Salt-loving Bacteria's Survival Skills Bode Well for Life on Mars  

The dark streaks seen on Martian slopes might be an indication of where water sometimes flows, especially since orbiters have also observed salts in the same locations. (Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) Mars' surface is dry and dusty. But researchers know there's water there. It's locked up in the polar ice caps, and occasionally it probably seeps to the surface as liquid. And at night, the Red Planet's plummeting temperatures raise the humidity drastically, possibly to 80 ...

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2019-06-25 10:01:43



CBD Might Work as an Antibiotic to Treat Bacterial Infections  

(Credit: ElROi/Shutterstock) CBD, or cannabidiol, is growing in popularity as a stress-relieving wonder drug that may help ease anxiety, inflammation and pain. Many enthusiasts also say it can cure a smorgasbord of other conditions. CBD is a non-active ingredient in cannabis -- it doesn't get you high. And that's helped retailers avoid legal problems while plopping the substance into all manner of products. But does the CBD chemical craze carry any weight? There's one surprising

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2019-06-25 07:44:44



Curiosity Detects Methane Spike on Mars Again, But What Does it Mean?  

Spacecraft have been both finding and not finding methane around Mars for years. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab) Last week, NASA's Mars Curiosity rover detected a sudden spike in methane levels, which kickstarted excitement about the prospects of life on the Red Planet. On Earth, the most common source of methane is biological organisms, from cows and humans down to single-celled creatures, making its detection on the Red Planet a reason for excitement and intrigue. But it's quit...

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2019-06-24 12:08:58



Record-breaking Astronaut Peggy Whitson: 'It's an Exciting Time for Space Exploration'  

Whitson during her time on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA) Peggy Whitson's career as an astronaut has been trailblazing: With a total of 665 days in space, Whitson not only currently holds the space endurance record in the U.S., she is eighth on that list overall. She was the first woman astronaut to hold NASA's chief astronaut position, has completed a total of 10 spacewalks over the course of her career, and commanded the International Space Station twice. ...

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2019-06-24 01:17:23



Students Who Take Music Classes Also Do Better Academically, Study Finds  

(Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock) Music is the language of feelings, the food of the soul. But could it also be a grade booster for high school students? Researchers think so — if students engage in actually playing the music (not just listening to it). A new study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology reports high school students who play musical instruments score significantly higher in science, math, and English exams than their non-musical peers. Th...

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2019-06-24 01:01:56



Ancient Campfire Remains Hold Oldest-Known Remains of Humans Cooking Starches  

(Credit: Benevolente82/Shutterstock) More than 100,000 years ago, humans lived in the caves that dot South Africa's coastline. With the sea on their doorstep and the Cape's rich diversity of plant life at their backs, these anatomically modern Homo sapiens flourished. Over several millennia, they collected shells that they used as beads, created toolkits to manufacture red pigment, and sculpted tools from bones. Now some of these caves, along the country's southern coast, h...

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2019-06-21 18:35:29



Planting Milkweed Across Major Cities Could Help Save Monarchs  

A Monarch butterfly on the flowers of a milkweed plant (Credit: Mark Rogovin/The Field Museum) In the past two decades, the monarch butterfly population east of the Rocky Mountains has declined by 87 percent. That's due in part to the fact that the only plant that monarchs lay their eggs on - milkweed - has become scarcer thanks to farmers removing it from their fields. Scientists say that stopping the monarch's decline will require planting some 1.8 billion stems of milkweed. And, acco

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2019-06-21 15:56:39



Brain Health Supplements Don't Work, New Study Shows  

Older people often take many supplements, including ones purported to help with brain health. A recent study says the supplements do not work. (Credit: Mladen Zivkovic/Shutterstock) Americans and others around the world have turned increasingly to dietary supplements in order to maintain or preserve their brain health. A recent study found that a quarter of adults over 50 take a supplement for brain-related health. But that same study, done by experts convened by

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2019-06-21 13:19:37



Meet the Companies Trying to Put Humans Back on the Moon  

In May, Jeff Bezos unveiled the lunar lander, dubbed Blue Moon, that his spacecraft company Blue Origin hopes to fly in the coming years. (Credit: Blue Origin) The rocket's flare is sudden and brilliant, a blurring horizontal column of whooshing fire. Just as quickly, the bright jet flickers out of existence, the few seconds of burn enough complete the test. A pause in the control room, then applause ripples around. The group retires to a test cell nearby, where there are speec...

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2019-06-21 12:26:30



AI Could Give Millions Online Legal Help. But What Will the Law Allow?  

(Credit: BuffaloBoy/Shutterstock) So, you just got a parking ticket. Let's assume it wasn't the first. And let's take that a step further and say that you absolutely, positively, do not want to pay it, or think you should, for that matter. Or let's say you're in a more serious situation - you're planning to file for divorce. You might not be able to afford an expensive attorney, or maybe you just flat-out don't know where to start with the legal process. ...

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2019-06-21 09:09:29



NASA Selects PUNCH, a New Mission to Study the Sun  

The PUNCH mission will include four microsatellites that work together to watch the entire heliosphere. (Credit: SwRI) The sun powers life on Earth and keeps us from freezing to death. It also occasionally sends out bursts of charged particles that can be deadly to astronauts outside Earth's sheltering atmosphere, and also wreak havoc on electronics both on and above Earth. There's also a lot researchers still don't understand about the sun's behavior, including how its outermost laye...

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2019-06-21 04:20:10



Americans Ignore Experts, Continue To Devour Processed Meats  

Processed meats remain a major part of the average American's diet. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Raysonho@ Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine) Well, the results are in. After years and years of nutritionists telling Americans to eat fewer processed meats and more fish, Americans are eating (drumroll please) … exactly the same amounts as they did 18 years ago. A research team at Tufts University in Boston crunched the numbers, and published their study today in the Journal of the Aca...

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2019-06-21 02:53:36



One Day of Work Per Week is Enough to Get the Mental Health Benefits of Employment  

Work, even in small doses, can actually be good for our mental health. (Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock) For most of us, work is, well, work. It can be stressful, and suck up a lot of our time. But despite these negatives, there are work perks other than a paycheck and standard employer benefits. Employment offers structure, social contact, physical and mental activity and it's often a crucial part of our sense of identity — all of which can be a boon to our mental health. So ...

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2019-06-20 21:42:31



ESA Plans Mission to Intercept a 'Pristine' Comet  

Comet 67P was thoroughly explored over two years. Now, astronomers are hunting an even fresher catch. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam) The European Space Agency has selected a new mission that aims to investigate a wholly pristine comet, or one that has never visited the sun. Because these objects are hard to spot until they're already close to the sun, the idea is that the mission would launch without a specific target. Called Comet Interceptor, the mission would launch to a stab...

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2019-06-20 11:50:47



Scientists Find a Never-Before-Seen Hybrid: A Narluga  

The first "narluga" skull ever to be discovered. The hybrid mixes traits of its beluga and narwhal parents. (Credit: Mikkel Høegh Post, Natural History Museum of Denmark.) While visiting West Greenland in the 1980s, an Inuit hunter killed an odd-looking whale. He realized there was something unique about the animal, so he kept its skull. Years later in 1990, a researcher from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources spotted the specimen mounted on the hunter's toolshed. In...

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2019-06-20 11:34:22



Astronomers Discover a New Stage of Galaxy Evolution — the 'Cold Quasar'  

An artist depicts the powerful quasar blowing away material immediately around it, but with the outer reaches of the galaxy still containing red dust and gas. (Credit: Michelle Vigeant) Quasars are supermassive black holes actively gobbling material from the galaxy around them. While black holes are known for pulling material in, the turbulent swirl of that whirlpool often also flings material and radiation out at high energies, enabling quasars to be seen from across the universe. They

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2019-06-20 10:15:06



People Are More Likely to Return Wallets if There's Lots of Money Inside, Study Says  

People are more likely to track down a the owner of a wallet if it contains a large sum of money. (Credit: Shutterstock) What would you do if you found a wallet with $100 in it? Would you return it? Keep it? Well, if you're like the majority of people in this world, you'd probably contact its owner and return the wallet without a cent missing. But, if the wallet contained only a few bucks, you maybe would call it lunch money. At least that's according to a new study publish...

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2019-06-20 08:33:38



Third Falcon Heavy Launch Set for Next Week  

Falcon Heavy made its second launch on April 11 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: SpaceX) The third launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled to blast off from Kennedy Space Center late at night on June 24. Along for the ride will be 24 satellites and a slate of experiments, including new technology developed by NASA that will help guide our way to Mars. The Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) is a step forward for NASA's spacecraft guidance systems. Right now...

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2019-06-20 08:10:45



Study shows that Trump's new "Affordable Clean Energy" rule will lead to more CO2 emissions, not fewer  

This animated spiral portrays the simulated changes in the global average monthly air temperature from 1850 through the present relative to 1850-1900, and then where they are projected to head if we do nothing to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. (Source: Jay Alder, USGS) The Trump administration has rolled back Obama-era climate change rules in an effort to save coal-fired electric power plants in the United States. The action comes in the form of the "Affordable Clean Energy

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2019-06-20 05:57:56



The Event Horizon Telescope's Possible Next Target? Blazars  

A blazar is an active black hole hurling jets of material directly at Earth. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab) The Event Horizon Telescope made history on April 10 when it captured the first image of a supermassive black hole's event horizon at the heart of galaxy M87. While there's only one other target close enough to image that way - the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way - there are plenty of other targets where EHT's sharp gaze can still make br...

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2019-06-20 04:40:52



A Molecule Long Thought Harmless Plays a Role in Pancreatic Cancer, Could Hint at Cure  

The location of the pancreas in the human body. (Credit: Magic mine/Shutterstock) Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer — a virtually incurable condition. But now, a serendipitous discovery is providing new hope: A sugar molecule associated with the disease, but long thought harmless, known as CA19-9, actually plays an active role in the genesis of pancreatic cancer, researchers say, and could become a new target for therapy. The discovery uncovers new possible way...

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2019-06-20 03:33:22



Life's a Blur — But We Don't See It That Way  

The lines scribbled over this famous Georges Seurat painting come from an experiment that tracked how the human eye jerks around as it takes in the details of the scene. (Credit: R. Wurtz / Daedalus 2015 / Public Domain) The image above, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," was painted in 1884 by French artist Georges Seurat. The black lines crisscrossing it are not the work of a toddler wreaking havoc with a permanent marker, but that of neuroscientist Robert Wurt...

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2019-06-19 21:55:44



Himalayan Glaciers Are Losing Ice Twice as Fast Now  

Climate change could mean trouble for Himalayan glaciers. New research reports that they're melting twice as fast today as they were at the turn of the century. (Credit: Nik Bruining/Shutterstock) Home to Mount Everest and many more of the world's tallest peaks, the Himalayas rise up from the Ganges River north to the Tibetan Plateau. This iconic mountain range is also home to thousands of glaciers.  These rivers of ice provide valuable fresh water to surrounding regions. But ...

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2019-06-19 20:30:39



This Robot Fish Has 'Blood' That Doubles As Its Muscles  

The robot fish in its natural environment. (Credit: James Pikul) When it comes to designing better gizmos, efficiency is the name of the game. Why have two separate components to do two separate tasks, if you can have one do both? We have a whole bird-killing metaphor about how great it is to be efficient. Well, what's good for the goose, it turns out, is also good for the robot fish. A team of engineers at Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania have created a sof...

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2019-06-19 19:03:28



Astronauts Test a Moon Stretcher on the Seafloor  

NEEMO 23 crew members test out a prototype of the LESA device. (Credit: ESA/NASA) This week, astronauts and scientists are venturing under the sea as part of NEEMO-23, the 23rd expedition of the NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations. NEEMO sends specialists to Aquarius, an underwater research station located 3.5 miles off the coast of Key Largo in Florida, and 62 feet under the surface. Thanks to the buoyancy of seawater and the sandy seafloor, the area around Aquariu...

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2019-06-19 17:53:09



NASA's Successor to the Hubble Telescope Inches Closer to Launch  

The James Webb Space Telescope -- minus the telescope -- recently underwent another round of testing. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn) The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is NASA's long-planned - and long-delayed - successor to Hubble. But after a recent spate of testing to mimic the extremes of space, it's looking like the telescope is still on track for its 2021 launch date. The telescope itself, along with its instrumentation, passed many of its final tests last year, befo...

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2019-06-19 12:18:45



Our Gut Microbes Are Pickier Eaters Than We Thought  

(Credit: POLIGOONE/Shutterstock) I don't know who said "you are what you eat," but it really doesn't make sense. I am objectively not made of peanut butter and coffee, though I'm certain that would be my fate if the sentiment were true. That said, the general idea — that what we eat matters — seems to hold more and more weight as studies of our diet pile up. Now, researchers say there's yet another wrinkle to the question of what to eat, one rooted in the complexities of t...

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2019-06-19 12:12:19



The Growing Science Behind a Fasting Treatment for Alzheimer's  

(Credit: SewCream/Shutterstock) When it comes to medical diagnoses, Alzheimer's is a grim one. Those who develop the disease, which causes ever-worsening memory and behavioral problems, don't have many treatment options. There are a handful of drugs that can ease symptoms, but none of them slow down the disease's progression or offer a cure. But one approach, outside the realm of drugs and medications, is quickly showing some strong potential for treatment -- fasting. Typic...

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2019-06-19 06:51:30



Wildfires rage near Siberia's "mouth of hell" — a giant depression that's getting bigger due to global warming  

Wildfires blazing in Siberia, as seen by one of the Sentinel 2 satellites on June 11th. (Source: Copernicus Sentinel image data processed by Pierre Markuse) I started writing this post last week after seeing the stunning satellite image above showing a blazing Siberian wildfire. When I returned to finish the post today, I learned from a story in the Siberian Times that wildfires in this part of Russia's Sakha Republic are now threatening a spectacular landscape feature known amon

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2019-06-19 03:03:23



Scientists Issue Warning To Humanity: Climate Change Depends On Microbes  

A flooded rice field. Microbes in the soil release methane when rice fields are flooded, adding to greenhouse gas emissions. (Credit: Jet Rockkk/.Shutterstock) The real impact of climate change depends on tiny organisms we can't even see, argues an international panel of more than 30 microbiologists in a consensus statement published Tuesday. Microbes, or microorganisms, are any organism or virus invisible to the naked eye. Numbering in the nonillions (in the U.S., that's 10...

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2019-06-19 01:42:29



Incredible Rock-Eating Shipworm Is First Of Its Kind  

A section of limestone riddled with burrows bored by a unique rock-eating shipworm. (Credit: Shipway et al 2019, Proc. R. Soc. B 20190434. What would a shipworm do if a shipworm didn't eat wood? The humble bivalve has long had outsized influence on both its environment and even the global economy. That's because, until now, every known species consumes wood, sometimes with destructive results. A shipworm species new to science, however, t

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2019-06-18 21:14:11



Scientists Read the Sun's History in Moon Rocks  

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections were more common when the sun was younger, but it may still have been quieter than many other stars like it. (Credit: NASA/SDO) Stars, like humans, are more volatile when they're young. As sunlike stars mature past their first billion years, they all tend to slow in their rotation, eventually converging to roughly the same period we see now in our sun: about 27 days for a star the same mass as our sun. But when stars are young, they rota...

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2019-06-18 16:14:57



Understanding Microsleep — When Our Minds Are Both Asleep and Awake  

Seconds-long periods of sleep, known as "microsleep," are common during mundane tasks like driving. While these unintended brain naps can be difficult to control, getting adequate sleep is the key to preventing them. (Credit: pathdoc/Shutterstock) Have you ever spaced out during a meeting, but been jolted back to reality by the sound of your boss calling your name a few times? If you've ever been in this awkward situation, you might have experienced "microsleep." This weird sta...

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2019-06-18 15:04:16



Honeybees Know What 3 Means (and 2, and 4), Researchers Find  

One honeybee, ah ah ah... (Credit: yod67/Shutterstock) Humans, monkeys, pigeons, fish and honeybees can all grasp the concept of a greater than or less than sign and choose between bigger or smaller quantities. Now, new research from a team led by Martin Giurfa at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France is the first to show that honeybees, like other vertebrates, can also recognize a specific value, not just a relative value. That means they know the number 3, instead of simply ...

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2019-06-18 04:20:09



Fossil Find Is First Evidence Of Arctic Hyenas  

An artist's rendering of ancient Arctic hyenas belonging to the genus Chasmaporthetes, now known to have roamed Canada's Yukon Territory. (Credit: Julius T. Csotonyi) You might associate hyenas with Africa's sprawling savannas, but the animals were once right at home above the Arctic Circle. Modern hyenas generally stick to Africa. (A decreasing number of one species, the striped hyena, can be found on the edges of southwestern Asia.) However, back in the day, various n...

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2019-06-18 02:39:01



Humans Are Probably Behind the Evolution of 'Puppy Dog Eyes'  

Dogs likely evolved the gesture in response to human pressure. (Credit: Fotyma/Shutterstock) You know that look Fido gives you from underneath the dinner table? Those puppy dog eyes, researchers recently discovered, are something unique to domesticated dogs that evolved over the 30,000 or more years that we've coexisted.  In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used dissections and behavioral analysis to compare the facial...

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2019-06-18 02:32:28



Researchers Discover Urban Problems Plagued Even the Earliest Cities  

Excavations at Çatalhöyük. (Credit: NiglaNik/Shutterstock) In the mid-1960s, an English archaeologist discovered an enormous and ancient settlement called Çatalhöyük on the Konya Plain in south central Turkey. Wall paintings and figurines of humans and animals revealed a cultured community once lived there around 9000 years ago. Crowded houses and numerous graves revealed a growing and complex society. Researchers established the Çatalhöyük Research Project in the early...

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2019-06-18 02:18:16



SNAPSHOT: How Sediment Layers Reveal Earth's Ancient Climate Cycles  

Colorized elevation map of a lakebed in New Jersey shows stripes of ancient sediment deposits. The deposits are tied to cycles of wet and dry climates throughout Earth's history. (Credit: LIDAR image, US Geological Survey; digital colorization by Paul Olsen) Ribbons of blue — the modern Raritan and Neshanic rivers — slice across a landscape that's key to understanding Earth's deep-time climate cycles. This colorized elevation map captures a 40-square-mile chunk of an ancient l...

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2019-06-17 21:02:09



Closing In On a Non-sugar Sweetener — One Without a Weird Aftertaste  

(Credit: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock) The first time someone synthesized saccharin, the artificial sweetener in Sweet'N Low, it was an accident. A scientist studying coal tar in 1879 didn't wash his hands before eating dinner and was surprised to taste a sweet residue from the lab on his fingertips. Same goes for the invention of the sweetener sodium cyclamate in 1937: the unwitting pioneer, who was working on a fever medication, put his cigarette down on the lab bench, and when h...

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2019-06-17 14:50:18



The globe just experienced its second warmest March through May since at least 1880  

Overall, the global mean temperature during March through May was 1.02 °C warmer than the 1951-1980 average. This made it the second warmest such period in records dating back to 1880. (Source: NASA GISS) March through May — spring in the Northern Hemisphere — was the second warmest such period in records dating back to 1880, according to a new analysis out today from NASA. On its own, the month of May was third warmest. The map above shows how temperatures around t...

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2019-06-17 14:45:53



Researchers Find Earliest Example of Merging Galaxies  

An artist rendered their own view of what the merging galaxies might look like. (Credit: NAOJ) Thirteen billion years ago, two galaxies collided to make something totally new. Each of those galaxies was among the universe's first, since the cosmic clock had only been ticking for less than a billion years. As the galaxies' dust and gas swirled together, new generations of stars were born, and their light began racing across the cosmos until it collided with the 66 radio telescopes th...

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2019-06-17 13:51:26



Vaporizing Meteors are Making Clouds on Mars  

These clouds snapped by the Curiosity rover on Mars are much lower and thicker than the meteor-generated clouds the study looked at. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Justin Cowart) No matter what planet you're on, physics remains the same. For clouds, that means they follow a peculiar law - they form only around a seed of some sort, usually a fleck of dust or salt. On Earth, with its thick atmosphere and strong air currents, it's possible to find these lightweight particles throughout th...

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2019-06-17 10:13:51



How Apollo Astronauts Didn't Get Lost Going to the Moon  

A mockup of the Apollo Guidance Computer that navigated Apollo's way to the Moon. MIT Library. Driving, say, to a friend's house, we usually have directions to follow like "turn left at the light then it's the third door on the right." The same isn't true when going to the Moon; there are no signposts guiding the way. So how exactly did Apollo astronauts know where they were going when they went to the Moon? This one is tough. You can't just launch a rocket to...

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2019-06-17 07:13:31



Our Sun, the Still-mysterious Star That Gives Us Life  

When it comes to our local star, science is just warming up.

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2019-06-15 13:27:24



Could the Big Bang be Wrong?  

A short history of the universe since the time of the Big Bang. We can directly observe more than 13 billion years of change, but the beginning itself is an enduring mystery. (Credit: ESA) The Big Bang is the defining narrative of modern cosmology: a bold declaration that our universe had a beginning and has a finite age, just like the humans who live within it. That finite age, in turn, is defined by the evidence that universe is expanding (again, and unfortunately, many of us are fami

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2019-06-15 12:33:07



Body Language: What It Means and How to Read It  

We communicate more with our bodies than we realize. Here’s how you can learn to read these silent messages.

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2019-06-15 09:25:59



Viruses: What They are, How They Spread, and How We Fight Them  

Some of the most deadly diseases of the modern era come from viruses — and they’re not even alive.

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2019-06-15 08:54:41



Light Pollution From Satellites Will Get Worse. But How Much?  

An artist's depiction of space junk. (Credit: ESA) SpaceX's ambitious Starlink project could eventually launch more than 10,000 satellites into orbit and rewrite the future of the internet. But Elon Musk's company has been taking heat from the astronomical community after an initial launch in late May released the first 60 satellites. The 500 pound (227 kg) satellites were clearly visible in Earth's night sky, inspiring concern that they could increase light pollut...

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2019-06-14 12:34:13



As the Hunt Drags Out, Physicists Start Searching for the Lightest Dark Matter  

The Large Underground Xenon experiment in South Dakota is one of many projects searching for dark matter and coming up empty. (Credit: LUX Collaboration) Dark matter, the invisible material that so far shows itself only through the pull of its gravity, was first proposed nearly a century ago. It took another half-century to truly ignite the physics community. But at this point, a plethora of highly advanced projects have gone hunting for dark matter and come up empty. Now scient

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2019-06-14 08:13:15



Did Dark Matter Punch a Hole in the Milky Way?  

An artist's rendition shows the dark matter halo (blue) that astronomers believe surrounds the Milky Way. (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada) A massive clump of dark matter may have plowed through a conga line of stars streaming around the Milky Way, according to new research presented Tuesday at the 234th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The research, led by Ana Bonaca of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, reveals a curious abnormality in an otherwise uniform s...

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2019-06-14 07:01:04



The Milky Way Has Battle Scars from Colliding With a Ghostly Galaxy  

Our Milky Way, shown here in an artist's concept, has strange "ripples" in its outlying regions. New research indicates those ripples were caused by a collision with a dwarf galaxy called Antlia 2. (Credit: ESA) The Milky Way likely collided with a recently discovered dwarf galaxy called Antlia 2 less than a billion years ago, according to new research presented Wednesday at the 234th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society.  The research, spearheaded by Sukanya Chakrabart...

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2019-06-13 19:33:06



Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? Maybe to Help Keep Cool  

(Credit: Ehrman Photographic/Shutterstock) (Inside Science) -- A gangrene-inducing bite in Africa, 40 years of curiosity, and backyard experiments her daughters still complain about have all come together to tell Alison Cobb one thing: Stripes help zebras keep their cool. New research published this week in the Journal of Natural History shows stripes may create air flows that give zebras a kind of natural air conditioning system that helps them ward off the blazing sun. "...

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2019-06-13 18:47:31



NASA is Retiring Its Legendary Spitzer Space Telescope  

The Iris Nebula is captured here by Spitzer. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003 on a mission to spend five years exploring the cosmos in infrared light. That means it excels at capturing images and chemical signatures of warm objects, like the glow of gas in nebulas and galaxies, or the composition of planets in still-forming alien solar systems. It even found a new ring of Saturn. In recent years, it's been operating with just one i...

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2019-06-13 18:46:26



Propellers, Waves, and Gaps: Cassini's Last Looks at Saturn's Rings  

Cassini's view of Saturn on January 2, 2010. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) Since Cassini plunged into Saturn's atmosphere in 2017, ending its 13-year mission, scientists have continued to comb through the rich store of data it sent back, especially during its last year, when it dove closer to Saturn's rings than ever before. Among the findings are a deep look at the complex ring system, which hid more structure than scientists expected, including "stra...

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2019-06-13 08:13:58



As Pollinator Populations Drop, Hoverflies May Offer Britain Hope  

A hoverfly on a cluster of yellow mustard flowers. (Credit: Dave Hansche/Shutterstock) Billions of hoverflies from Europe descend on southern Britain each spring. The black and yellow striped bugs are no more than half an inch in length but make the long trek to Britain for the summer. Once they arrive, the hoverflies pollinate flowers and lay eggs. The fly populations have remained stable unlike those of honeybees and other insects, which have dropped in recent years, research...

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2019-06-13 06:13:19



Scientists Are Citing Patents for Things That Don't Actually Exist  

(Credit: Willrow Hood/Shutterstock) Let's say I have an idea for a great invention one day — a series of pneumatic tubes that would shoot pods with people inside between cities at hundreds of miles an hour. My "Superloop" sounds like a sure-fire hit, but I don't have the resources to pull the project off, and what's more, the technology to build it isn't actually there yet. But I don't want someone with more money to come along and snag the invention from me — I did do the ha...

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2019-06-13 05:25:31



Parasites are Destroying the Beaks of Darwin's Famous Finches  

A Galapagos Finch. (Credit: Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock) Nearly 200 years ago Charles Darwin voyaged to the Galapagos islands and began to formulate his theory of evolution -- largely thanks to his observations of how finches' beaks varied in shape from island to island. But now, the finches' famous beaks might be in trouble, thanks to a small, blood-sucking visitor. An invasive insect, called Philornis downsi, is finding a home in the nests of almost every species of ground bir

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2019-06-13 05:15:33



After a miserable May with unusual warmth, Arctic sea ice hits a record low for early June  

Click on this image, acquired by NASA's Aqua satellite, to watch an animation of sea ice flowing through the Nares Strait from April 19 to May 11, 2019. This flow usually doesn't begin until June or July. (Or click on this link. Source: NASA Worldview via NSIDC) With Arctic temperatures running well above average in May, sea ice in the region continued its long-term decline, finishing with the second lowest extent for the month. And since then, things have gotten worse.

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2019-06-13 01:21:46



The Briny Deeps of Europa Brim With Table Salt  

The scars of Europa's chaos terrain also includes simple table salt, which could inform scientists about the nature of the moon's underground ocean. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) Scientists are fairly confident that Jupiter's moon Europa has an underground ocean, even though they've never seen it. Hidden beneath an icy crust, most of what researchers know about that ocean is based on the moon's smooth, streaked surface. Europa lacks mountains or large craters, but it is cri...

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2019-06-12 14:05:29



Oldest Evidence for Weed Smoking Found In Chinese Grave  

One of the braziers recovered from the grave site. Some had residues from cannabis smoking in them. (Credit: Xinhua Wu) More than 40 tombs dot the southeastern corner of the Pamir plateau, a desert landscape at nearly 10,000 feet elevation in far western China's high mountains. Buried with the dead is evidence that whoever put them there also conducted rituals at the site more than two millennia ago. And those ceremonies involved a certain hallucinogenic plant we know quite well today:

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2019-06-12 13:02:21



New Material Could Create a Better Recyclable Chip Bag  

Current food packaging often contains films that must be removed before recycling, increasing costs. (Credit: Lunatictm/Shutterstock) Rip open a bag of chips and you'll find a shiny, silver material staring back at you. This metallized film helps keep packaged foods like cookies and energy bars tasting fresh by preventing gases from leaking out (or in). The material is the industry standard for flexible, shelf-stable food packaging. But it's not so great for the environment. ...

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2019-06-12 12:59:14



Our Sun Is Capable of Producing Dangerous 'Superflares', New Study Says  

A power superflare fries an exoplanet in the star's system. (Credit: NASA, ESA and D. Player) Astronomers have learned over the past decade that even large solar flares — powerful bursts of radiation — from our Sun are actually small potatoes compared to some of the flares we see around other stars. It's now common to spot "superflares" hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than the Sun's flares from stars hundreds of light-years away. Earlier this year, researchers e...

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2019-06-12 02:01:38



Catching A Whiff Of T. Rex's Sense Of Smell  

Did Sue the T. rex and other members of the species have a great sense of smell? (Credit: The Field Museum) As fascinating and awe-inspiring as fossils are, the ancient bones tell us only so much about how an animal actually lived. Take T. rex, for example: How did the animal find food, through sharp sight, great hearing or a keen sense of smell? The nose knows, say authors of a new paper on the iconic dinosaur's olfactory ability. In most modern animals, including

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2019-06-11 17:36:38



There's An Enormous, Mysterious Mass Under the Moon's Largest Crater  

The South Pole-Aitken basin shows up clearly as low-lying blue in a topographical map of the moon, with the newly discovered mass located underneath the dotted line. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona) Buried under the largest, oldest crater on the moon, scientists have discovered an enormous mass of dense material, possibly the remains of the asteroid that formed the crater some 4 billion years ago. Astronomers led by Peter B. James from Baylor Un

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2019-06-11 16:37:54



Record Rain Is Drowning Fields in the Midwest — Is It Climate Change?  

Heavy rains and flooding through the winter and spring have left fields across the Midwest too wet to plant. (Credit: Matauw/Shutterstock) Every spring, farmers across the Midwest take to the fields to plant their crops. Here, corn and soybeans will reign supreme over tens of millions of acres, as soon as conditions are right to plant. Not too wet, not too dry - just right. But the U.S. had an exceptionally wet winter this year. And it kept raining in the spring. April turne...

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2019-06-11 09:22:54



Global Astronomy Groups Say They're Concerned About SpaceX's Starlink Satellites  

Telescopes at Lowell Observatory in Arizona captured this image of galaxies on May 25, their images marred by the reflected light from more than 25 Starlink satellites as they passed overhead. (Credit: Victoria Girgis/Lowell Observatory) Elon Musk's company SpaceX launched 60 small satellites on May 23 as the beginning of the company's Starlink program. They're the vanguard of a planned 12,000-satellite-strong constellation that Musk intends to serve as the infrastructure for a cheap ...

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2019-06-11 09:18:19



Humans' Ability to Hear Harmonic Sounds Might Set Us Apart  

(Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock) The pursuit of science is usually an unending stream of embarrassments for the human ego. No, the sun doesn't revolve around us. No, we're not all that different from common animals. No, we're not even the only humans. But, in some ways at least, our brains really are special. A new study out this week in Nature Neuroscience shows one more way we really are different from some of our closest simian relatives: our mental capacit...

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2019-06-11 08:01:52



Ancient DNA Study Reveals Deep Roots of Modern Grapevines  

New research into the genetic backstory of ancient French grapevines reveals that some varieties cultivated today haven't changed for centuries. (Credit: Victor Grigas/Wikimedia Commons) Consider this the next time you toast a friend and wish them long life: The wine swishing around your glass may have come from grapevines with very long-lived lineages indeed. Researchers analyzing genetic material from ancient grape seeds turned up evidence of varieties almost unchanged for nearly 2,00

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2019-06-10 12:09:08



Lunar Tales: The First (Imaginative) Moon Landings  

This iconic shot from the 1902 film A Trip to the Moon shows the fabled Man in the Moon embedded with a massive, bullet-like spacecraft that was launched from Earth by a giant cannon. (Credit: drmvm1/Flickr) It's been 50 years since humans first landed on the Moon. But for how long have we rehearsed those first steps in our imaginations? This we do know: We've been telling each other tales about our Moon-landing dreams for nearly 2,000 years. The earliest known written story ...

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2019-06-07 19:32:05



'Drunken Monkey' Hypothesis: Was Booze an Advantage For Our Ancestors?  

(Credit: Manekina Serafima/Shutterstock) Worldwide, people drink over 65 billion gallons of alcohol each year. The United States' share, if divided equally across the adult population, would amount to about two and a half gallons of pure alcohol per person, annually. And this thirst seems to be universal: Fermented beverages have been found in nearly every society, as far back as archaeologists can detect their existence. That's the idea behind the "drunken monkey" hypo...

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2019-06-07 17:47:30



Firearm Access Associated With Suicide Risk For U.S. Soldiers  

(Credit: Bumble Dee/Shutterstock) Since 2004, the rate of death by suicide has exceeded that of death by combat injury for American soldiers. A review of more than 100 cases involving the suicide of an active-duty soldier found a significant association between firearm ownership, access and usage patterns and increased risk of suicide. The study, published today in the open-access, online-only journal JAMA Network Open, conducted psychological autopsies of 135 U.S. soldiers who c

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2019-06-07 12:52:43



There's a Metabolic Limit on How Much Energy We Have for Endurance Events  

A runner on the 3,080-mile Race Across the USA (RAUSA) in 2015. Some of the RAUSA runners were included in a study to determine the metabolic limit for how much energy the body can absorb from food for endurance events. (Credit: Bryce Carlson) Many marathon runners know the boost that can come from popping a mid-race energy gel. (Mmmm, calorie-rich goop.) But according to new research published in Science Advances, when it comes to endurance events, there's a limit to how much energy ...

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2019-06-07 05:19:55



A 'Ridge' of Plasma Connects These Merging Galaxies  

Two galaxy clusters, Abell 0399 and Abell 0401, are merging about 1 billion light-years from Earth. This image shows the clusters' cores (red) in X-ray-light. The two are linked by a thin filament (yellow and blue), which glows faintly in microwaves and radio waves. (Credit: DSS and Pan-STARRS1 (optical), XMM-Newton (X-rays), PLANCK satellite (yparameter), F. Govoni, M. Murgia, INAF) Galaxy clusters are a great place to peer in on the physics that govern our universe. Not only are these

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2019-06-07 04:22:16



The Mystery of Cosmic Cold Spots Just Got Even Weirder  

Recent analysis of Planck data upholds mysteries that have existed since the spacecraft's first results in 2013. (Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration) During its time in orbit, the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft gave humanity the most sophisticated measurements ever made of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, the first flash of light that rippled across the universe after the Big Bang. Plank told us the shape of the universe and confirmed crucial components of the...

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2019-06-06 15:57:40



Methane Levels Are Rising, and Scientists Don't Know Why  

Though researchers don't know why methane levels are currently rising, the fossil fuel industry was likely to blame in the past. (Credit: Nick Stubbs/Shutterstock) Carbon dioxide is climate change's villainous star. But methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas, is CO2's lesser-known evil twin. Researchers now find methane levels in the atmosphere are on an escalating upward trend. That's a problem because emission scenarios that limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius assume ...

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2019-06-06 11:27:45



SNAPSHOT: This 500-year-old Artifact Rescued From a Portuguese Shipwreck is the Oldest of its Kind  

(Credit: David Mearns) In 1503, a storm sank the Portuguese ship Esmeralda off the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, taking the lives of the crew. In 2014, divers and archaeologists returned to the wreck to retrieve what remained. That included this metal disk, thought to be an astrolabe — an instrument that mariners used to navigate by measuring the height of celestial bodies above the horizon. Two features of the Portuguese flag — the coat of arms and an armilla...

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2019-06-06 10:56:18



Your Bad Day Is Probably Stressing Out Your Pup, Too  

Your stress may be contagious to your dog. (Credit: Klymenok Olena/Shutterstock) A knowing glance. A paw on your arm. A lick on the cheek. Most dog owners can recall a time when they were feeling down. And somehow, their dog just knew something was wrong and responded with a loving gesture. Many dog lovers have long believed that canines are able to sense human emotions. And, a growing body of evidence on the emotional connection between man and his best friend adds weight to th

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2019-06-06 10:01:39



Particle Colliders Help Prep Humans For Deep Space Radiation  

Particle accelerators provide a way for scientists to test cosmic ray strength particles in labs on Earth. (Credit: GSI GmbH/Jan Michael Hosan 2018) NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while scientists monitored changes in his body, as well as that of his twin, Mark Kelly, who remained on the ground. Kelly came back to Earth in good shape, the experiment showed. And, some Russian cosmonauts have also spent even longer than Kelly in space without obvious long term ill effect

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2019-06-06 09:05:11



New Approach to CRISPR Could Yield Even Better Gene Editing  

(Credit: science photo/Shutterstock) When researchers edit genes with CRISPR today, their systems chop a strand of DNA in half before inserting a new gene and allowing a cell's natural healing mechanisms to patch the strand back up. That technique works well overall, but it can lead to errors, and the success rate varies depending on the type of cell. Scientists have been on the hunt for better versions of CRISPR for years. Now, a new protein that can insert custom genes i

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2019-06-06 06:23:08



Researchers Create Algorithm That Predicts Hollywood Success or Failure  

(Credit: Everett Collection/Copyright 20th Century Fox) In the cutthroat Hollywood film industry, is it possible to know if an actor's career is about to boom or bust? In many cases, yes. Researchers from Queen Mary University in London created an algorithm that can predict with 85 percent accuracy whether a star's golden years have passed or are still yet to come. In a study published June 4 in the open-access journal Nature Communications, scientists analyzed the profiles ...

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2019-06-05 18:18:55



Two Papers Shed Light on How Ancient People Spread Through the American Arctic  

Successive waves of migration from Siberia created the Inuit populations in North America today. (Credit: Illustration by Kerttu Majander, Design by Michelle O'Reilly) Who were the First Americans? It's a question that for decades has divided researchers, who have proposed competing theories as to how humans moved from Eurasia into North America. The question is far from settled, though it is clear that by about 14,500 years ago (and perhaps as far back as 30,000 years ago)

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2019-06-05 17:02:52



China's First Sea Launch Puts Satellites in Orbit  

(Credit: Courtesy Xinhua News Agency) On Wednesday, China became the third country to conduct a sea-based space launch when it sent a Long March 11 rocket into orbit carrying experimental tech and five commercial satellites. The rocket, also named "CZ-11 WEY," blasted off from a platform in the Yellow Sea built from a modified drilling rig off the coast of the Shandong province. The launch platform itself was announced in a government press release earlier this week. In tha...

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2019-06-05 12:19:53



Engineers Craft New Plan to Unstick NASA's Mars InSight Lander  

Engineers hope the real InSight on Mars can use its robotic arm to help the mole start digging again, a test that has succeeded with replica instruments on Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) The digging instrument on NASA's Mars InSight lander has been stuck since February 28, and engineers have been hard at work trying to get it moving again. The problem is with its Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, and specifically the part known as the mole, which auto-hammers its w...

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2019-06-05 08:02:59



Earth Flyby Gives Astronomers Close-Up Look at Binary Asteroid  

The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope studied a double asteroid, shown here in an artist's illustration, during an Earth flyby in May. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser) A binary asteroid named 1999 KW4 passed some 32 million miles (5.2 million km) from Earth on May 25, giving astronomers a good look at a space rock that won't come this close again for nearly two decades. The flyby brought it about 14 times farther away than our Moon, but still close enough for astrono...

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2019-06-05 06:39:30



Curiosity Finds Mars Clay That Points Toward Watery Past  

Curiosity snapped this selfie May 12, 2019; to the left of the rover are its two recent two drill sites, "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie." (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) Finding the conditions to support life on Mars is the main goal for NASA's Curiosity rover, and a new discovery of clay could be leading the rover on the right path.  After drilling in an area on Mars dubbed the "clay-bearing unit," Curiosity turned up two new samples that have the highest amounts of clay minerals...

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2019-06-04 19:06:48



ESA Draws Up Plans to Bring Back a Sample From Mars  

A sample return mission would require multiple launches and grabbing samples out of Mars' orbit. (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab) NASA isn't the only space agency with a hunger for the Red Planet. The European Space Agency would also like to snatch samples from Mars, and now they're making their own plans for a mission that will bring back priceless pieces of our neighboring planet. ESA's plans will certainly work in cooperation with NASA's, and in fact NASA's upcoming Mars ...

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2019-06-04 16:13:51



Exercise Alleviates Symptoms of Autism, Mouse Study Says  

(Credit: Andrew Burgess/Shutterstock) Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has no cure. And medications to treat the condition's core symptoms - anxiety, repetitive behaviors and difficulty engaging in social interactions like talking to others - do not exist. Now researchers may have landed on a simple and effective way to ease autism symptoms: exercise. Exercise reversed autistic behaviors in an animal model of the condition researchers announced Tuesday in the journal Cell R...

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2019-06-04 15:55:33



The Search for the World's Oldest Alcohol  

Before the brewpub there was the brew cave. In Israel's Raqefet Cave archaeologists recently reported traces of what could be the earliest known beer production 13,000 years ago. The evidence comes from three stone mortars, analyzed in a 2018 Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports paper. After extracting residues from the rocks, the researchers identified plant molecules, including wheat or barley starches that appeared malted, mashed and fermented — the main ingredients and ...

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2019-06-04 06:43:25



Elephant Poaching is Decreasing as Ivory Demand Slows  

(Credit: Kletr/Shutterstock) Tens of thousands of African elephants die each year from poaching. While astounding, researchers now estimate that number has plummeted since illegal hunting was at its peak in 2011. Just eight years ago, hunters took out more than 10 percent of the African elephant population — some 40,000. Now poaching kills less than four percent of the pachyderms, according to a new report out Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Despite the good news, it...

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2019-06-03 21:12:04



Direct Images Show Baby Exoplanets Stealing Gas From Their Parent Star  

The young star system includes two gas giants, shown here in an artist's illustration still forming and carving out gaps in the disk of material around their central star. (Credit: J. Olmsted/STScI) While discoveries of exoplanets are commonplace these days, the most obvious detection method - directly taking a picture of a planet - remains one of the most challenging. And such images almost always reveal a single, giant planet orbiting far from its host star. So researchers...

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2019-06-03 19:26:29



Mutations Mean Gene-Edited Twin CRISPR Babies May Die Early  

Jiankui He talks to Matthew Porteus of Stanford during a panel talk in Hong Kong following his presentation about his gene editing experiment on two twins. (Credit: Ernie Mastroianni/Discover) This past November, Jiankui He, a Chinese scientist, claimed to have edited the genomes of twin girls when they were embryos. Genome editing on human embryos is against the law in the U.S., but not specifically outlawed in China. It is however wrought with ethical concerns because any changes to D

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2019-06-03 18:48:32



Comets Are Teaching Us How to Make Breathable Oxygen in Space  

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft saw material and gases - including oxygen - erupt off the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team Space is an inhospitable place. For now, when humans go out in space capsules and stations, they need to bring their own air and water — and do without gravity — during their stay. In the future, if humans want to stay in space long-term (and they do), t...

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2019-06-03 15:14:06



Port Expansion Dredging Decimates Coral Populations on Miami Coast  

Officials recently expanded the Port of Miami to allow in larger ships, impacting local coral colonies in the process. (Credit: Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock) Coral reefs along the Florida coastline are struggling. Disease has been running rampant among colonies in recent years, and now researchers have found that a billion-dollar dredging project that wrapped up in 2015 killed off more than half of the coral population in the Port of Miami. A study published May 24 in the jour

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2019-06-03 06:29:40



Chandra Space Telescope Sees Star Pairs Ejected From Galaxies  

Two galaxies in the Fornax Cluster, NGC 1399 and NGC 1404, glow with X-rays when viewed with the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The bright points of light beyond the galaxies' outskirts may be binary stars that have been kicked out of their homes. (Credit: NASA/CXC/McGill University/X. Jin et al) Astronomers have discovered evidence that some stars can be "kicked out" of their host galaxy, based on data collected by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.  The stars in question were...

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2019-06-03 05:23:14






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