Monday, 21 August 2017

We saved the whale. The same vision can save the planet

We saved the whale. The same vision can save the planet

“Hope is essential – despair is just another form of denial,” Al Gore said last week, in an interview to promote the sequel to his 2006 climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. As well as the very bad news of Donald Trump’s science-denying presidency, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which opens in the UK today, brings good news: the plummeting cost of renewable electricity and the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

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Sunday, 20 August 2017

In Turkey, Schools Will Stop Teaching Evolution This Fall

In Turkey, Schools Will Stop Teaching Evolution This Fall

When children in Turkey head back to school this fall, something will be missing from their textbooks: any mention of evolution. The Turkish government is phasing in what it calls a values-based curriculum. Critics accuse Turkey's president of pushing a more conservative, religious ideology — at the expense of young people's education.

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The Doctor Game: Fart study could merit Nobel Prize

The Doctor Game: Fart study could merit Nobel Prize

Could hydrogen sulfide (H2S), the gas that causes the odour of farts, ever be the reason behind a Nobel Prize in Medicine? Dr. Rui Wang, an internationally known Canadian researcher, reports that . . .

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Are Pets the New Probiotic?

Are Pets the New Probiotic?

Pets, especially dogs, may have a salutary effect on health because they add to the rich array of microbes in our homes, to the benefit of our immune systems.

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Toyota Patents a Cloaking Device

Toyota Patents a Cloaking Device

If you were to choose the perfect getaway car (and if you actually think about this, shame on you!), your choice would probably be something very fast, quiet and low to the ground, with darkened windows and night-vision lights to make it somewhat invisible at night. But what about one for those broad daylight Ocean’s 11-style heists? That list of choices probably wouldn’t include a Toyota Corolla … yet. Toyota just filed a patent on a cloaking device that may someday help a slick salesperson change your mind … for a cut of the bounty, of course.

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Standing at work linked to heart disease

Standing at work linked to heart disease

If you tend to do a lot of standing at work, you may want to be sitting down to read this. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that workers who primarily stand on the job are twice as likely to have heart disease than workers who mainly sit. That puts them more at risk of getting heart disease than smokers, said Peter Smith, a scientist from the Institute for Work and Health (IWH) and lead author of the study.

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The Empathetic Dog

The Empathetic Dog

Emotional contagion, the spread of feelings between people and animals, is an emerging field of science.

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We’ve been predicting eclipses for over 2000 years. Here’s how.

We’ve been predicting eclipses for over 2000 years. Here’s how.

Imagine. You are an ancient human and your reliable and faithful sun suddenly and unexpectedly goes dark. This terrifies you. You think, 'What if it never comes back? Oh gods, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESER...oh, it's back. Phew.' But then, over the years, it keeps happening. You begin to lose trust in the sun's loyalty and start recording when these events happen. Centuries go by and eventually enough of a pattern has built up that early civilizations are able to predict when these crazy events might occur.

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We've Already Got Socialized Medicine

We've Already Got Socialized Medicine

Unfortunately, the biggest recipients of government help are the pharmaceutical companies, not patients

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Lost WW2 warship USS Indianapolis found after 72 years

Lost WW2 warship USS Indianapolis found after 72 years

The World War Two heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis has been found in the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after its sinking by a Japanese submarine. The warship was discovered 18,000 feet (5.5km) beneath the surface. The Indianapolis was destroyed returning from its secret mission to deliver parts for the atomic bomb which was later used on Hiroshima.

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The Vegan Dog

The Vegan Dog

Will a vegan diet make dogs healthier?

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Billionaire Paul Allen Finds Lost World War II Cruiser USS Indianapolis in Philippine Sea

Billionaire Paul Allen Finds Lost World War II Cruiser USS Indianapolis in Philippine Sea

Seventy-two years after two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine sunk cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the ship’s wreckage was found resting on the seafloor on Saturday – more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean’s surface. Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, led a search team, assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, D.C., to accomplish what past searches had failed to do – find Indianapolis...

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

What a Border Collie Taught a Linguist About Language

What a Border Collie Taught a Linguist About Language

Tansy was not into sports. The little border collie, a rescue, didn’t care for agility trials or flyball. But her adopted family—with two other border collies already in the house—played them all the time. Border collies, the elite athletes of the canine universe, are working dogs. They go a little nuts without something to do. After a little consternation, Tansy's new owner Robin Queen, a linguist at the University of Michigan, got some advice: sheep. And why not? Border collies are, after all, sheepdogs.

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Trump administration eyes truck emissions standards for its next climate rollback

Trump administration eyes truck emissions standards for its next climate rollback

The Trump administration plans to revisit greenhouse gas emissions and efficiency standards for freight trucks just months before the standards are scheduled to take effect, a decision environmental groups view as yet another capitulation by the administration to industry demands.

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Universal income: A guaranteed income for every American

Universal income: A guaranteed income for every American

When people learn that I want to replace the welfare state with a universal basic income, or UBI, the response I almost always get goes something like this: “But people will just use it to live off the rest of us!” “People will waste their lives!” Or, as they would have put it in a bygone age, a guaranteed income will foster idleness and vice. I see it differently. I think that a UBI is our only hope to deal with a coming labor market unlike any in human history and that it represents our best hope to revitalize American civil society.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Because of Pink Floyd, I’ve Spent Decades Undoing the Idea That There’s a Dark Side of the Moon”

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Because of Pink Floyd, I’ve Spent Decades Undoing the Idea That There’s a Dark Side of the Moon”

In 1973, Pink Floyd released their influential concept album, The Dark Side of the Moon, which garnered both critical and commercial success. The album sold some 45 million copies, and remained on Billboard's Top LPs & Tapes chart for 741 weeks (from 1973 to 1988).

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Air pollution particles could make you more susceptible to infection, say scientists

Air pollution particles could make you more susceptible to infection, say scientists

A team led by immunology expert Dr Peter Barlow has demonstrated for the first time that nano-sized particles found in traffic fumes can damage the immune system’s ability to kill viruses and bacteria. While the potential link between car-choked streets and illness has been the subject of much debate, the work at Edinburgh Napier University is the first to show this effect and has significant human health implications.

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The world’s largest floating solar farm is producing energy atop a former coal mine

The world’s largest floating solar farm is producing energy atop a former coal mine

The Chinese city of Huainan is rich in coal—very rich. By one 2008 estimate, it has nearly a fifth of all of China’s coal reserves. Now the city has become home to the world’s largest floating solar farm. Appropriately, it has been built atop a former coal mine, which had become a lake after being flooded with groundwater. The China Daily reports that the farm started generating electricity earlier this week.

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What Happens to Creativity as We Age?

What Happens to Creativity as We Age?

When we’re older, we know more. But that’s not always an advantage.

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White supremacists taking DNA tests sad to discover they’re not 100% white

White supremacists taking DNA tests sad to discover they’re not 100% white

The sociologists studied more than 3,000 posts on the Stormfront forum over a decade in which white supremacists discussed genetic testing.

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Skylon: The Plane That Can Fly Anywhere In The World In 4 Hours

Skylon: The Plane That Can Fly Anywhere In The World In 4 Hours

British aerospace firm Reaction Engines Limited (REL) is working on an aircraft that will be able to transport passengers anywhere in the world in just four hours, while also being able to reach outer space.

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People Age Better If They Have This One Quality

People Age Better If They Have This One Quality

Having a purpose in life may help people maintain their function and independence as they age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. People in the study who reported having goals and a sense of meaning were less likely to have weak grip strength and slow walking speeds: two signs of declining physical ability and risk factors for disability.

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Sex redefined

Sex redefined

The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.

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Friday, 18 August 2017

One of the largest near-Earth asteroids will sweep past us in September

One of the largest near-Earth asteroids will sweep past us in September

Asteroid Florence will fly by Earth on 1 September at a safe distance of seven million km or "18 Earth-Moon" distances. Florence is about 4.4km wide and is known to be one of the largest near-Earth asteroids according to Nasa. Near-Earth objects are heavenly bodies that enter the Earth's neighbourhood influenced by the gravity of nearby planets.

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How Exercise Could Help You Learn a New Language

How Exercise Could Help You Learn a New Language

Working out during a language class amplifies an adult’s ability to memorize, retain and understand new vocabulary.

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Physicists Detect Radio Waves With Light

Physicists Detect Radio Waves With Light

he detection of weak radio signals is a ubiquitous problem in the modern world. Everything from NMR imaging and radio astronomy to navigation and communication depends on picking up faint radio signals that would have been undetectable just a few decades ago. That’s why many groups are racing to find better ways to spot these signals and to process them using state-of-the-art techniques.

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Rock Art in Chaco Canyon May Depict Ancient Solar Eclipse, Experts Say

Rock Art in Chaco Canyon May Depict Ancient Solar Eclipse, Experts Say

Experts say a petroglyph in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon may depict a solar eclipse from 920 years ago.

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Scientists Have Developed a New Method to 3D-Print Living Tissue

Scientists Have Developed a New Method to 3D-Print Living Tissue

The technique could eliminate one of the biggest problems in bioprinting.

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Huge Blobs of Fat and Trash Are Filling the World’s Sewers

Huge Blobs of Fat and Trash Are Filling the World’s Sewers

First, someone might pour molten turkey fat down a drain. A few blocks away, someone else might flush a wet wipe down a toilet. When the two meet in a dank sewer pipe, a baby fatberg is born. Eventually, more fat, oil, and grease congeal onto the mess and build up into giant stinking globs. When they get big enough, fatbergs can clog sewers entirely, sending raw sewage gushing into streets. By the time a 15-ton monstrosity was pulled from the sewers of London’s Kingston borough in 2013...

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Australian researchers report breakthrough in treatment of peanut allergy

Australian researchers report breakthrough in treatment of peanut allergy

Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible. In clinical trials conducted by scientists at Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, children with peanut allergies were given a probiotic along with small doses of a peanut protein over an 18-month period.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

California scientists push to create massive climate-research programme

California scientists push to create massive climate-research programme

California has a history of going it alone to protect the environment. Now, as US President Donald Trump pulls back on climate science and policy, scientists in the Golden State are sketching plans for a home-grown climate-research institute — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

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More intelligent people are quicker to learn (and unlearn) social stereotypes

More intelligent people are quicker to learn (and unlearn) social stereotypes

Smart people tend to perform better at work, earn more money, be physically healthier, and be less likely to subscribe to authoritarian beliefs. But a new paper reveals that a key aspect of intelligence – a strong “pattern-matching” ability, which helps someone readily learn a language, understand how another person is feeling or spot a stock market trend to exploit – has a darker side: it also makes that person more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes.

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Hyundai Plans Long-Range Premium Electric Car in Strategic Shift

Hyundai Plans Long-Range Premium Electric Car in Strategic Shift

Hyundai Motor Co said on Thursday it was placing electric vehicles at the center of its product strategy - one that includes plans for a premium long-distance electric car as it seeks to catch up to Tesla and other rivals.

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Living on Mars: the Stuff You Never Thought About

Living on Mars: the Stuff You Never Thought About

In The Martian we saw what kind of hacking was needed to stay alive for a relatively short while on Mars, but what if you were trying to live there permanently?

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Chemists Say You Should Add A Little Water To Your Whiskey. Here's Why

Chemists Say You Should Add A Little Water To Your Whiskey. Here's Why

It's a common refrain from whiskey enthusiasts: Adding a few drops of water to a glass opens up the flavors of the drink. Chemists in Sweden provide a molecular explanation for why this works.

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NASA will stream incredible 360-degree video of the eclipse — and you can watch it live on Facebook

NASA will stream incredible 360-degree video of the eclipse — and you can watch it live on Facebook

When you open Facebook on Monday, a special message about the 2017 total solar eclipse will promote NASA's live-streaming video feeds.

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“Alternative” medicine’s toll on cancer patients: Death rate up to 5X higher

“Alternative” medicine’s toll on cancer patients: Death rate up to 5X higher

Researchers hope the data will guide patients to effective treatments.

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'Jellyfish' Galaxies Reveal Feeding Habits of Monster Black Holes

'Jellyfish' Galaxies Reveal Feeding Habits of Monster Black Holes

Glowing "jellyfish" galaxies have revealed a new way to power some of the most powerful objects in the universe. The same process that feeds the most voracious black holes at the galactic centers may also create dangling "tentacles" of newborn stars, a new study found.

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Lost to Science for 60 Years, Táchira Antpitta Is Rediscovered in Venezuelan Andes

Lost to Science for 60 Years, Táchira Antpitta Is Rediscovered in Venezuelan Andes

Jhonathan Miranda never expected to be into birds. But when the Venezuelan biologist got a job at a bird lab as a university student, he set his mind to learning as much as he could about the class Aves. As he organized trips around the country, one particular species lodged in his mind: the Táchira Antpitta, a round, leggy brown bird a little longer than a pencil.

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You could use a banana to work your touch screen … if you wanted to

You could use a banana to work your touch screen … if you wanted to

How do touch screens work? And why do bananas work just as well as your finger but pens don't?

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400 million year old fish fossil reveals jaw structure linked to humans

400 million year old fish fossil reveals jaw structure linked to humans

A new study from ANU on a 400 million year old fish fossil has found a jaw structure that is part of the evolutionary lineage linked to humans. The fossil comes from ancient limestones around Lake Burrinjuck, 50 kilometres northwest of Canberra. The area is rich in fossil shells and corals, but also home to the rare skulls of extinct armoured fish called placoderms.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Mythbusting Ancient Rome -- did all roads actually lead there?

Mythbusting Ancient Rome -- did all roads actually lead there?

Today the phrase 'all roads leads to Rome' means that there's more than one way to reach the same goal. But in Ancient Rome, all roads really did lead to the eternal city, which was at the centre of a vast road network.

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MH370: satellite images show 'probably man-made' objects floating in sea

MH370: satellite images show 'probably man-made' objects floating in sea

Drift analysis of debris reveals new coordinates for potential impact location

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Will AI Blur the Lines Between Physical and Virtual Reality?

Will AI Blur the Lines Between Physical and Virtual Reality?

These advances raise practical questions we have never had to address before.

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Archaeologists discover three ancient tombs in Egypt

Archaeologists discover three ancient tombs in Egypt

Archaeologists have discovered three tombs that date back around 2,000 years in southern Egypt. They were found in burial grounds in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya province, south of Cairo. The tombs contained a collection of different sarcophagi, or stone coffins, as well as clay fragments.

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Harrowdown Hill

Harrowdown Hill

Thom Yorke

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Why expensive wine appears to taste better

Why expensive wine appears to taste better

Price labels influence our liking of wine: The same wine tastes better to participants when it is labeled with a higher price tag. Scientists from the INSEAD Business School and the University of Bonn have discovered that the decision-making and motivation center in the brain plays a pivotal role in such price biases. The medial prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum are particularly involved in this. The results have now been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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The Snopes Fight Is Even Way More Complicated Than We Originally Explained

The Snopes Fight Is Even Way More Complicated Than We Originally Explained

If you read our post a few weeks ago about the very messy legal fight between Snopes and Proper Media, you may recall that we spent many, many words explaining how the story was way, way, way more complicated than most in the media were portraying it...

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Popular Neonicotinoid Pesticides Keep Bumblebees From Laying Eggs

Popular Neonicotinoid Pesticides Keep Bumblebees From Laying Eggs

A new study is adding to evidence that a popular class of pesticides can harm wild bees, like bumblebees.

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The ocean is the answer to future food security but we’re not using it: scientists

The ocean is the answer to future food security but we’re not using it: scientists

The vast majority of coastal countries on Earth are missing out on a valuable resource to ensure future food security, according to newly published research. Published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the research has found that the world’s oceans contain numerous “hot spots” for marine aquaculture, or ocean-based fish farms, which could produce 15 billion tonnes of fish every year: over 100 times current seafood consumption globally.

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