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July 14 2014

Hubble Telescope Spots an Intergalactic String of Pearls


No jeweler on the planet can beat the string of pearls spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope: The merger of two elliptical galaxies has created a "necklace" of infant stars stretching for 100,000 light-years.

Everything about this picture is big: The stellar string would stretch from one end of our Milky Way galaxy to the other, between two galaxies that are both three times wider than our own. The galaxies are contained in a cluster known as SDSS J1531+3414, a formation that's so massive its gravitation field bends the images of background galaxies into bluish arcs.

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July 13 2014

Where has all the light in the universe gone?


The universe is a pretty dark place – but according to astrophysicists it is much too dark.

Scientists have been left scratching their heads after noticing there is a huge deficit of light.

The amount of light in the universe can be measured accurately by studying tendrils of hydrogen which become ionised, or charged, when they encounter ultraviolet light.

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July 13 2014

NASA spacecraft observes further evidence of dry ice gullies on Mars


Repeated high-resolution observations made by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) indicate the gullies on Mars' surface are primarily formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, not liquid water.

The first reports of formative gullies on Mars in 2000 generated excitement and headlines because they suggested the presence of liquid water on the Red Planet, the eroding action of which forms gullies here on Earth.

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July 13 2014

A Match made in Heaven: Graham Hancock and the Massive Megaliths of Baalbek


The massive megaliths found at the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek always make for my all-time favourite "WTF?!" images of ancient sites. I posted the historical image above a while back here on the Grail just to share the love, but now we've perhaps got an even better one: our good friend Graham Hancock has posted an image to Facebook of him atop one of the Baalbek megaliths, taken by his wonderful photographer wife, Santha Faiia.

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July 13 2014

Star maps point to Aboriginal songlines


Specific stars and constellations are used by some Aboriginal language groups to help them remember key waypoints along a route, detailed oral histories reveal.

The research, reported in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, documents how people from two language groups in north-central New South Wales and south-central Queensland use the night sky.

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July 13 2014

UFO Sighting: Sparkling Angel-like Flying Objects Spotted Hovering over Italy


In a surprising sighting, Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) like orbs spotted sparkling the skies of Italy. The magnificent glowing objects appeared more like a group of angels to the residents of Milan, who spotted them on 6 July.

The beautiful, but strange sighting was captured in a nine minute 31 seconds video clip and was posted on YouTube.


Related 'UFO' spotted over southern France

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July 13 2014

Superhuman Vision Coming to Mere Mortals


Imagine having an ultra high-resolution display built directly into a pair of contact lenses. This could be the future of digital displays thanks to scientists at Oxford University, who have adapted a material currently used to store data on DVDs and transformed it into a radical new display technology.

Writing in Nature today, they say the material could usher in a new generation of displays that are thinner, lighter, with higher resolution and lower power consumption than any existing technology.

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July 13 2014

Whistleblower: NSA stores 80% of all phone calls, not just metadata - full audio


At least 80 percent of all audio calls are gathered and stored by the NSA, whistleblower William Binney has revealed. The former code-breaker says the spy agency’s ultimate aim is no less than total population control.

The National Security Agency lies about what it stores, said William Binney, one of the highest profile whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA.

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July 13 2014

Could this $300 headset transform the lives of 'locked-in' patients?


Loredana Paglialonga leans across her father's prone body and whispers in his ear: "Spinta, Papi, spinta" ("Push Daddy, push"). It is impossible to tell whether Anselmo Paglialonga, a former major in the Italian carabinieri, has heard. Paralysed from head to toe with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Anselmo is completely "locked in". Unable to speak or open his eyes, his only hope of communicating is via a state-of-the-art neuroheadset attached to his scalp.

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July 13 2014

We could wipe memories of drug addicts, says top Cambridge neuroscientist


Substance abusers could have their memories of drug addiction wiped in a bid to stop them using illegal narcotics, an award-winning neuroscientist has said.

According to new research by Cambridge University’s Professor Barry Everitt: disrupting the memory pathways of drug users could weaken powerful “compel” cravings, reduce “drug seeking behaviour” and open a new field of addiction therapy.

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July 13 2014

Can't Stand Meetings? Try Taking Away The Chairs


The secret to more productive meetings? You might simply need to stand up.

This we know, to some degree. Just take as examples the growing popularity of standing desks, which took off after a flurry of reports found that sitting for long periods of time can significantly, negatively, impact employees' health.

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July 13 2014

Obesity: We're not overeating, we're under-exercising, study suggests


A new study suggests that under-exercising, rather than overeating, may be at the heart of America's obesity epidemic.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine report a strong correlation between the rise in obesity and a striking drop in the amount of time Americans spend exercising when not at work over the last 22 years.


Related: Exercise is the best medicine, study shows

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July 13 2014

Growing up on livestock farm halves risk of inflammatory bowel diseases


The incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases is rising sharply -- particularly among young people. However, new research indicates that growing up on a livestock farm may have a protective effect. "It is extremely exciting that we can now see that not only allergic diseases, but also more classic inflammatory diseases appear to depend on the environment we are exposed to early in our lives," says one expert.

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July 13 2014

Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’ weedkiller may be causing kidney failure in farmworkers: study


Researchers looking into the cause of a chronic kidney disease epidemic which has devastated farm-workers in Central America, India and Sri Lanka may have found their culprit in a commonly-used herbicide manufactured by Monsanto, according to Truthout.

According to a study conducted by three Sri Lankan scientists, glyphosate, an ingredient used in herbicide Roundup may be behind a disease known as CKDu; Chronic Kidney Disease. The ‘u’ in the name indicates a variation from other chronic kidney diseases where the cause is known.

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July 13 2014

Study finds organic produce is more nutritious


Organic produce certainly costs more than conventionally grown food, but is it better for you?

Existing evidence suggests there are no real health benefits from eating organic food compared to conventionally grown produce. Now a review of the scientific literature concludes that organic consumers may be getting their monies worth; it claims that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown fodder.


Related: Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants

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July 13 2014

Japanese plant experts produce 10,000 lettuce heads a day in LED-lit indoor farm


Could this be the future of agriculture?

A physiologist has turned a former semiconductor factory into one of the world’s largest indoor farm, cultivating lettuces with LED lights.

At almost half the size of a football pitch, the farm, which opened in Japan in July, is already churning out 10,000 lettuce heads a day, the brains behind it say.

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July 13 2014

Oxygen fluctuations stalled life on Earth


Swings in oxygen levels may be behind a mysterious billion-year hiatus in evolution.

One of the biggest riddles in Earth's history is why animals did not evolve after a spike in oxygen levels approximately 2.3 billion years ago. Instead, despite what scientists had thought was a period of relatively high oxygen, the evolution of life on Earth stalled for what is dubbed the ‘boring billion’.

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