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March 1 2015

Season of the witch: why young women are flocking to the ancient craft


Rapper Azealia Banks brought witchcraft back into the mainstream by tweeting ‘I’m really a witch’. But women in the US have been harnessing its power for decades as a ‘spiritual but not religious’ way to express feminist ambitions.


Related: 'Witchcraft' Used to Fight Sex Trafficking in Africa

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March 1 2015

Can You Dig It? More Evidence Suggests Humans From The Ice Age


In Florida, archaeologists are investigating a site that a century ago sparked a scientific controversy. Today, it's just a strip of land near an airport.

Initially dismissed as a hoax a century ago, scientists have found evidence in Florida of humans living 14,000 years ago. If the findings hold up, they will help rewrite the history of early man.

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March 1 2015

Humour in the 13th century characterized by ridicule


We tend to think of the Middle Ages as grotesque and dreary. However, 13th century elites made use of laughter quite deliberately – and it resounded most loudly when it was at someone else's expense.

The things that medieval elites considered amusing can act as a window on their interpersonal relations: humour created a form of group solidarity and a clear distinction between friends and foes, thus revealing the power and value of entertainment, according to Beate Albrigtsen Pedersen at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the University of Oslo.

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March 1 2015

No one could see the color blue until modern times


This isn't another story about that dress, or at least, not really.

It's about the way that humans see the world, and how until we have a way to describe something, even something so fundamental as a color, we may not even notice that it's there.

Until relatively recently in human history, "blue" didn't exist, not in the way we think of it.

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March 1 2015

Human Hibernation: Snowy States Cause Longer Slumbers


On a cold and snowy day, you may want nothing more than to stay in bed until the weather's a little better.

Turns out, this may be a common sentiment — people in snowier states appear to sleep for a little longer during winter months than those in sunnier states, according to a recent analysis of data from a popular sleep tracking app.


Related: The Herbalist Who Lived to Be 256 Years Old: Fact, or Fiction? [Wikipedia]

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March 1 2015

Washington DC legalises marijuana possession and use


Washington DC has become the latest place in the United States to legalise the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

As of midnight on Thursday (05:00 GMT), people who use the drug in private no longer face prosecution.


Related: Alaska becomes third US state to legalise recreational marijuana use

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March 1 2015

Yes, we have more pandas


It’s official. There are now 1864 adult pandas in the wild, according to an announcement made by China’s State Forestry Administration at a long-awaited press conference in Beijing this morning.

For the past 40 years, China has conducted a survey of adult pandas in the wild, at roughly ten-year intervals. The 1970s estimate was 1100. In the 1980s, it was 1120. The third census, conducted between 1998 and 2002, gave us 1596 pandas.

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March 1 2015

Bees can experience false memories, scientists say


Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have shown for the first time that insects, too, can create false memories. Using a classic Pavlovian experiment, co-authors Kathryn Hunt and Lars Chittka determined that bumblebees sometimes combine the details of past memories to form new ones.


Related: Manx queen bees 'in demand' after disease-free ruling

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March 1 2015

Virtual Reality Can Make You Forget Pain


A couple of weeks from now I will be in hospital undergoing a knee replacement. It will be the most extreme surgery I’ve ever experienced and I’m pretty scared. I’ve been told that I can expect to endure excruciating pain afterwards but I won’t be allowed to lie in bed feeling sorry for myself. In order to ensure a good recovery I have to get up and exercise the new joint numerous times a day. Make no mistake, this is going to hurt.


Related: Will holidays soon be uploaded to our MINDS? Dr Michio Kaku reveals how we could use our brains in the next 50 years

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March 1 2015

Brain signals turn into drone commands in Lisbon presentation


Can we expect a time when aircraft will be directly controlled by the human brain? And what about mind-controlled drones? Imagine that, using an EEG (electroencephalogram) cap tracking neural activity, a man flies a drone with his brain.


Related: Volvo to test autonomous cars with ordinary drivers on public roads by 2017

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March 1 2015

Physicists suggest theory versus observational differences in the sun could be due to dark matter


A trio of astrophysicists has found that differences between observational data and solutions brought about through mathematics regarding the mechanism involved in heat transfer from the suns center to its outer parts, can be resolved by plugging dark matter into equations.


Related: Elusive 'Dark Photons' Still Lurking in the Shadows

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March 1 2015

Earth-like Planets Might be Rare After All


Given the recent discovery of thousands of exoplanets—many of them in the so-called habitable zone of their host star, where liquid water is stable on the planet’s surface—the paradigm has shifted to the point where scientists now believe there are a lot of Earth-like planets in our galaxy. By far, the largest number of known exoplanets orbit dM-stars, or red dwarfs. That’s no coincidence, because 80 percent of the stars in our galaxy are thought to be dM-stars, which have less than half the mass of our Sun.

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March 1 2015

'Rotisserie' Planets Could Host Alien Life — If Wet Enough


Planets spinning on their sides were long thought to have climates too extreme for life as we know it on Earth, but now, scientists have found that some of these "rotisserie" worlds might be more hospitable.

If these alien planets, which rotate sideways like a pig on a spit, are covered in oceans, they could actually have a mild, springlike climate all year, scientists say, potentially expanding the number of potentially habitable planets where life may be found.

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March 1 2015

Could the Milky Way become a quasar?


A quasar is what you get when a supermassive black hole is actively feeding on material at the core of a galaxy. The region around the black hole gets really hot and blasts out radiation that we can see billions of light-years away.

Our Milky Way is a galaxy, it has a supermassive black hole at the core. Could this black hole feed on material and become a quasar?


Related: Scientists shocked by far-out star clusters on fringes of Milky Way

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March 1 2015

Star Quadruplets Spied Growing Inside Stellar Womb


New observations of a star-forming nebula have revealed four stellar embryos, providing clues as to how multiple star systems evolve.

The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs, triplets or even quadruplets, but our sun appears to be a loner. This fact poses an interesting question: if our star is alone, and yet contains a rich multiplanetary system, how do planetary systems evolve in multi-star systems?

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March 1 2015

Giant Asteroid Collision May Have Radically Transformed Mars


The planet Mars has been associated with its namesake god of war for millennia, but its own past may have been more violent than was previously imagined. A new study suggests that Mars was once hit by an asteroid so large that it melted nearly half of the planet’s surface.

Researchers came to this conclusion while studying a strange feature known as the Martian hemispheric dichotomy—a dramatic drop in surface elevation and crustal thickness that occurs near Mars’ equator. In the northern hemisphere the land’s elevation is on average about 5.5 kilometers lower and the crust is around 26 kilometers thinner.

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February 28 2015

The Curiosity robot confirms methane in Mars' atmosphere which may hint that existed life


The tunable laser spectrometer in the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument of the Curiosity robot has unequivocally detected an episodic increase in the concentration of methane in Mars' atmosphere after an exhaustive analysis of data obtained during 605 soles or Martian days.

This puts an end to the long controversy on the presence of methane in Mars, which started over a decade ago when this gas was first detected with telescopes from Earth.

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