Saturday, 16 February 2019

Are robots better baristas? Berkeley's Bbox café thinks so

Are robots better baristas? Berkeley's Bbox café thinks so

By creating a mobile app and robots that prepare and serve orders, Bbox provides cheaper, more efficient coffee, and plans to expand its technology to more restaurant automation.

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Human cells can change job to fight diabetes

Human cells can change job to fight diabetes

Traditional cell biology textbooks say that most cells can only differentiate to the same cell type, with the same function. It seems that some of these textbooks need to be rewritten, thanks to the new results by researchers at the University of Bergen and their international partners at Université de Genève (UNIGE), Harvard Medical School, Universiteit Leiden and the Oregon Stem Cell Center (OHSU).

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Researchers Create 'Rat Cyborgs' That People Control With Their Minds

Researchers Create 'Rat Cyborgs' That People Control With Their Minds

I’ll just come right out and say it: Scientists have created human-controlled rat cyborgs. Lest you think this is some media sensationalism at work, here’s the actual title of the paper under discussion, which came out last week in Scientific Reports: “Human Mind Control of Rat Cyborg’s Continuous Locomotion with Wireless Brain-to-Brain Interface.” That pretty much says it all.

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What It Will Take For Humans to Be Self-Sustaining in Space

What It Will Take For Humans to Be Self-Sustaining in Space

We take for granted that we live on a planet that is rich in life. With over 14 million identified species, the sheer biodiversity on Earth is outstanding. We depend on this diversity for food and resources, which in return allow us to flourish and thrive. However, this symbiotic relationship doesn’t necessarily exist for the rest of the universe. In The Beginning of Infinity, physicist David Deutsch invites readers to conduct the following thought experiment: imagine the universe was divided into cubes the size of our solar system. What would a typical cube look like?

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Cannabis use in teens raises risk of depression in young adults | University of Oxford

Cannabis use in teens raises risk of depression in young adults | University of Oxford

Cannabis is the most commonly used recreational drug by teenagers worldwide. In Canada, among youth aged 15 to 19 years, the rate of past-year cannabis use is 20.6%, while in England, 4% of adolescents aged 11 to 15 years used cannabis in the last month. While there has been a lot of focus on the role of cannabis use in psychosis, there has been less attention on whether cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of common mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

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Friday, 15 February 2019

Researchers, set an example: fly less

Researchers, set an example: fly less

The world is warming and ecosystems are dying. To avoid disastrous climatic change, massive reductions in CO2 emissions are required in all sectors, reaching net-zero globally no later than 2050. This requires an unprecedented and rapid change in our ways of life. In this, the world of research is challenged for two reasons. First, researchers are the source of the increasing number of warnings about the state of our climate and biodiversity, and their credibility would be damaged by not setting an example.

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Airbus Retiring Its Jaw-Dropping Giant, the A380, in an Industry Gone Nimble

Airbus Retiring Its Jaw-Dropping Giant, the A380, in an Industry Gone Nimble

The European plane maker says it will stop deliveries in 2021 for the jet, which became less competitive as people changed the way they flew.

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New drug raises hopes of reversing memory loss in old age

New drug raises hopes of reversing memory loss in old age

An experimental drug that bolsters ailing brain cells has raised hopes of a treatment for memory loss, poor decision making and other mental impairments that often strike in old age. The drug could be taken as a daily pill by over-55s if clinical trials, which are expected to start within two years, show that the medicine is safe and effective at preventing memory lapses. Tests in the lab showed that old animals had far better memory skills half an hour after receiving the drug. After two months on the treatment, brain cells which had shrunk in the animals had grown back, scientists found.

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The Lost World of the Maya is Finally Emerging From the Jungle

The Lost World of the Maya is Finally Emerging From the Jungle

From massive fortresses to sprawling suburbs, a bold new vision of the vanished Maya civilization takes shape. Thomas Garrison pauses in the middle of the jungle. “That’s the causeway right there,” he says, pointing into a random patch of greenery in the Guatemalan lowlands. I squint, trying to make out features in the tangled rainforest undergrowth. There’s a small lump, rising no more than a foot or two from the forest floor.

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Female human body blocks weak sperm, scientists find

Female human body blocks weak sperm, scientists find

For millions of sperm it is the end of the road. Scientists have found evidence that the female reproductive tract is shaped in such a way that stops poor swimmers from reaching their goal. Researchers used small-scale models and computer simulations to show that pinch points that behave like gates along the sperm’s arduous path from cervix to egg allow only the fastest ones through. Tests with sperm from men and bulls revealed that the strongest swimmers were most likely to make it through the tight spots, known as “strictures”, while weaker ones were caught in oncoming currents that propelled them backwards when they got too close.

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SpaceX calls ULA NASA launch contract "vastly" overpriced in official protest

SpaceX calls ULA NASA launch contract "vastly" overpriced in official protest

SpaceX has filed an official protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) after NASA awarded competitor United Launch Alliance a launch contract for Lucy, an interplanetary probe meant to explore a belt of unique asteroids clustered around Jupiter’s orbital swath. Announced on January 31st, SpaceX believes that NASA made a decision counter to the best...

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No evidence playing violent video games leads to aggressive behaviour in teens, study finds

No evidence playing violent video games leads to aggressive behaviour in teens, study finds

Teenagers who play violent video games are no more prone to real world aggressive behaviour than their peers, according to UK researchers who say their negative effects have been overstated. Fears that gory games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty might make children think on-screen behaviours are acceptable have been a major concern for parents and policy makers for years. Last year President Donald Trump said violent games were “shaping young people’s thoughts” in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parklands, Florida.

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

NASA Will Launch a New Space Telescope in 2023 to Investigate the Universe

NASA Will Launch a New Space Telescope in 2023 to Investigate the Universe

Come 2023, NASA will have a new eye tracking the heavens and looking to solve some of the greatest scientific mysteries we know of. That's thanks to a newly approved mission called Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer and nicknamed SPHEREx. The instrument is designed to tackle two key questions: how the universe evolved and how common some crucial building blocks of life are across our galaxy.

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Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment

Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment

The abandoned Chernobyl exclusion zone could be about to change for the first time since the world's worst nuclear disaster.

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Drinking two or more diet sodas a day linked to high risk of stroke, heart attacks

Drinking two or more diet sodas a day linked to high risk of stroke, heart attacks

Drinking two or more diet sodas a day is linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and early death in women over 50, a new study says. The risk was highest for obese and African American women.

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Longevity scientists launch academy to raise profile of life-extending research

Longevity scientists launch academy to raise profile of life-extending research

Among the goals of the group, called the Academy for Health and Lifespan Research, are to share findings and lobby governments in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to increase funding and create pathways to approve age-slowing therapies.

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What Happened When I Bought a House With Solar Panels

What Happened When I Bought a House With Solar Panels

Third-party ownership and decades-long contracts can create real headaches.

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New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators

New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators

The Elon Musk-backed nonprofit company OpenAI declines to release research publicly for fear of misuse.

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40 percent of states across the country are committed to Paris climate goals

40 percent of states across the country are committed to Paris climate goals

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced on Tuesday that the state had joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, making it the 20th state, plus Puerto Rico, to pledge to uphold the Paris climate agreement goals. Momentum behind local-level climate action continues to grow, and since the start of the year, three others have also joined the alliance: Michigan, New Mexico, and Illinois. This comes as federal action on climate change under the Trump administration continues to slide backwards.

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Why Do the Northern and Southern Lights Differ?

Why Do the Northern and Southern Lights Differ?

Scientists have discovered the culprit: how the sun squeezes Earth’s magnetic tail

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Elon Musk: Moving to Mars will cost less than $500,000, 'maybe even below $100,000'

Elon Musk: Moving to Mars will cost less than $500,000, 'maybe even below $100,000'

Elon Musk says he is "confident" moving to Mars will "one day" cost less than $500,000 and "maybe even" cost below $100,000. While the final cost is "very dependent on [the] volume" of travelers, Musk said the cost of moving to Mars will be "low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth [and] move to Mars if they want." (The median home price in the U.S. is $223,900, according to Zillow.)

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Opportunity did not answer NASA’s final call, and it’s now gone to us

Opportunity did not answer NASA’s final call, and it’s now gone to us

Late Tuesday night, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent their final data uplink to the Opportunity rover on Mars. Over this connection, via the Deep Space Network, the American jazz singer Billie Holiday crooned "I'll Be Seeing You," a song which closes with the lines:

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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Some Foods Really Are Linked With a Higher Rate of Death, Study Finds

Some Foods Really Are Linked With a Higher Rate of Death, Study Finds

Food is full of chemicals and always has been. After all, everything is chemicals. But modern 'ultraprocessed' food is something else again – and new research suggests it could be more harmful than we suspect.

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No direct evidence of Russia collusion with Trump, Senate investigation finds

No direct evidence of Russia collusion with Trump, Senate investigation finds

The Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching an end to its two year investigation into meddling in the 2016 election, and Democrats and Republicans on the committee both say they have found no direct evidence to connect the Trump campaign in a conspiracy with Russia. Beyond the direct evidence, however, the investigators are split on party lines regarding how much can be gleaned from the patterns of evidence they gathered over the past two years through over 200 interviews.

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An earthquake lasted 50 days, but no one felt it. Here's why.

An earthquake lasted 50 days, but no one felt it. Here's why.

“You could call them phantom quakes,” one geologist says of the tectonic phenomena known as slow slip events.

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Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

On a hot day last spring, I removed my shoes at the hospital’s entrance and walked up to the second-floor lobby, where a clerk in his late 20s was processing patients. An older woman placed a shoebox before him and lifted off its lid, revealing a bloody white parakeet, the victim of a cat attack. The man in front of me in line held, in a small cage, a dove that had collided with a glass tower in the financial district. A girl no older than 7 came in behind me clutching, in her bare hands, a white hen with a slumped neck.

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A cell-killing strategy to slow aging passed its first test this year

A cell-killing strategy to slow aging passed its first test this year

Are tired-out cells what make people old? A new generation of drugs is designed to wipe them out.The small study in people with lung disease, reported in January, is being billed as the first attempt at “senolytics,” or employing drugs to clear people’s bodies of aged, toxic cells. Some researchers think this strategy could eventually be employed in healthy people to delay aging.

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To Start Life at The Nearest Star System, This Is How Big a Spaceship We Would Need

To Start Life at The Nearest Star System, This Is How Big a Spaceship We Would Need

There's no two-ways about it, the Universe is an extremely big place! And thanks to the limitations placed upon us by Special Relativity, traveling to even the closest star systems could take millennia.

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“Reverse Innovation” Could Save Lives. Why Aren’t We Embracing It?

“Reverse Innovation” Could Save Lives. Why Aren’t We Embracing It?

Cheap and simple medical devices could improve performance and lower health-care costs, but first they have to overcome deeply rooted biases.

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The Women Who Contributed to Science but Were Buried in Footnotes

The Women Who Contributed to Science but Were Buried in Footnotes

In a new study, researchers uncovered female programmers who made important but unrecognized contributions to genetics.

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Scientists discover oldest evidence of mobility on Earth

Scientists discover oldest evidence of mobility on Earth

Ancient fossils of the first ever organisms to exhibit movement have been discovered by an international team of scientists. Discovered in rocks in Gabon and dating back approximately 2.1 billion years, the fossils suggest the existence of a cluster of single cells that came together to form a slug-like multicellular organism that moved through the mud in search of a more favourable environment. The team, which included experts from Cardiff University, state that the new discovery places the first ever evidence of mobility on Earth to more than 1.5 billion...

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AI paediatrician makes diagnoses from records better than some doctors

AI paediatrician makes diagnoses from records better than some doctors

Diagnosing an illness requires taking in a lot of information and connecting the dots. Artificial intelligence may be well-suited to such a task and in recent tests one system could diagnose children’s illnesses better than some doctors.

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Military to investigate decision to certify the Falcon Heavy rocket

Military to investigate decision to certify the Falcon Heavy rocket

In a memorandum released Monday night, the US Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General informed Air Force leadership that it will evaluate the military's certification of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy for national security missions.

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Water Could Have Drowned the Earth If Not for Ancient Supernova

Water Could Have Drowned the Earth If Not for Ancient Supernova

All of Earth might be under water if not for a fortuitously timed supernova explosion, a new study suggests. A massive star in our sun's neighborhood met its violent end just as Earth and its fellow planets were coalescing 4.6 billion years ago. The blast seeded our nascent solar system with radioactive elements, including aluminum-26 (Al-26), which then heated and dried out the rocky building blocks known as planetesimals, according to the new modeling research.

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Elon Musk Reveals Future Price Plan for a Return Ticket to Mars

Elon Musk Reveals Future Price Plan for a Return Ticket to Mars

Ready to start a new life on Mars? Elon Musk, the tech entrepreneur vying to send humans to the red planet within the next decade, claimed on Monday that the cost of a ticket will one day enable “most people in advanced economies” to feasibly give up their Earth-bound dwellings and move to Mars. The SpaceX CEO stated via Twitter that he’s “confident” moving to Mars will one day cost $500,000 for a return ticket, possibly dropping further to below $100,000. These figures, Musk explained, are “very dependent on volume.”

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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Where are the baby dinosaurs?

Where are the baby dinosaurs?

In a spellbinding talk, paleontologist Jack Horner tells the story of how iconoclastic thinking revealed a shocking secret about some of our most beloved dinosaurs.

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How One Crash 10 Years Ago Helped Keep 90 Million Flights Safe

How One Crash 10 Years Ago Helped Keep 90 Million Flights Safe

Investigators never figured out precisely why the pilot abruptly sent the Colgan Air turboprop into a fatal dive 10 years ago as it neared Buffalo, N.Y. But they did learn enough from the Feb. 12, 2009, crash, which killed 50 people, to make it one of the most important milestones in the history of aviation safety, leading to changes in everything from pilot training to managing fatigue.

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Why so many people believe conspiracy theories

Why so many people believe conspiracy theories

Many people around the world believe that events are being controlled by others.

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The best thing you can do for your health: sleep well

The best thing you can do for your health: sleep well

‘A consistent seven to nine-hour sleep each night is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health’

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Flying squirrels secretly glow pink, thanks to fluorescence

Flying squirrels secretly glow pink, thanks to fluorescence

Drab by day, North America’s three species of flying squirrels are all fluorescent. But why?

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A radioactive metal may stifle the formation of water worlds

A radioactive metal may stifle the formation of water worlds

While we tend to think that Earth’s oceans make it a watery planet, it’s actually only a tiny fraction of a percent of water by mass. Looking out into the universe, it’s clear water is more common than our own planet implies. Some exoplanets can have half their mass as water. So, what causes some planetary systems to stay wet, while others dry out? The answer might be aluminum.

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Bill Gates: We didn’t see this coming

Bill Gates: We didn’t see this coming

How would you describe 2018? Was it what you expected? We’d probably say no. From especially devastating natural disasters on the one hand to record numbers of women campaigning for office on the other, 2018 felt to us like a series of surprises. The world looking backward from today is very different from what we pictured a couple years ago looking forward.

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China gets its first blockbuster sci-fi film

China gets its first blockbuster sci-fi film

Wandering Earth on track to be one of highest-grossing films in country’s history

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The company that promised a one-way ticket to Mars is bankrupt

The company that promised a one-way ticket to Mars is bankrupt

Mars One Ventures — the company that claimed it was going to send hundreds of people to live (and ultimately die) on the Red Planet — is now bankrupt, according to Swiss financial notices. It’s an unsurprising development, as many experts suspected that Mars One has been a scam for years, preying on people’s desires to travel to space without having a real plan to get them there.

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Study: Mosquitoes can hear up to 10 meters away

Study: Mosquitoes can hear up to 10 meters away

Cornell and Binghamton University researchers report for the first time that mosquitoes can hear over distances much greater than anyone suspected. The findings were published Feb. 7 in the journal Current Biology. Until now, it was believed that organisms required eardrums for long-range hearing, and that the feathery antennae with fine hairs that mosquitoes and some insects use to hear only worked at close distances of several centimeters (a few inches).

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NASA has taken a significant step toward human landings on the Moon

NASA has taken a significant step toward human landings on the Moon

For two years, the Trump administration has made various noises about returning humans to the Moon. There have been bill signings with Apollo astronauts such as Buzz Aldrin and Harrison Schmitt. Vice President Mike Pence has traveled to NASA facilities around the country to make speeches. And the president himself has mused about the Moon and Mars. However, beyond talk of returning humans to the Moon, much of the country's civil space policy and budgeting priorities really hadn't changed much until late last week.

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Decision-making styles and the stress of making the right choice

Decision-making styles and the stress of making the right choice

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology looked at the potential distress caused by decision-making. What they found was making decisions only seems to be distressing when you’re overly concerned with making the right one. It’s a matter of the decision-making style that a person is predisposed to. The good news is, the research suggests a way you can modify your orientation towards decision making such that it isn’t always such a daunting task.

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SpaceX requests FCC permission to operate 1m 'earth stations'

SpaceX requests FCC permission to operate 1m 'earth stations'

Last year SpaceX successfully tested two of the microsatellites that will form the backbone of its Starlink broadband project, and in November it secured authorization to launch more than 7,000 such satellites to get the network up and running. Now…

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Monday, 11 February 2019

Converting cells into new neurons could lead to a pill that repairs brain damage

Converting cells into new neurons could lead to a pill that repairs brain damage

As powerful as the human brain is, once it's damaged it can't really recover completely. Now researchers at Penn State may have found a way to boost the brain's regenerative abilities, using certain molecules to convert neighboring cells into new neurons. The technique could eventually lead to pills that treat brain injuries, stroke or Alzheimer's disease.

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Why losing a dog can be harder than losing a relative or friend

Why losing a dog can be harder than losing a relative or friend

Many are embarrassed to publicly show too much grief over the death of a dog. But research has shown just how devastating the loss can be.

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