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September 15 2014

Comfort Food Is a Myth


New research finds that, contrary to our beliefs, such foods don’t have any special ability to improve our moods.

What’s your favorite “comfort food”? You know you have one—a treat you use to soothe bruised feelings following some distressing event.

Well, guess what: You’re kidding yourself. A new study finds comfort foods are no more effective at lifting moods than any other foods—or even sitting quietly without consuming a calorie.

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September 15 2014

Where Do Baby Names Come From? Right-Hand Letters On QWERTY Keyboard Influence Popularity


Debating about what to name your baby? Whether you choose what’s vogue, or follow a long-standing tradition of naming your child after a relative, your QWERTY keyboard has a small, but significant impact on your child’s name. According to a study presented at the Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society in Austin, Texas, today’s most popular baby names have a strange commonality: they’re mostly written with the right hand, which is considered more positive than those typed with the left hand.

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September 15 2014

Engineers develop first intelligent, heated clothing


Were you a little chilly last winter? So were Alex Huang and Jason Yakimovich. And they did something about it.

Then students slogging through bitter drifts to fourth-year classes, the two were so unimpressed by the polar vortex that they decided to take matters into their own hands by inventing the world's first intelligent heated base layer.

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September 15 2014

Google's High-Tech Spoon Could Help People With Parkinson’s


Lift's spoons are not your ordinary flatware. They’re designed for people whose hands shake, whether from essential tremor or a neurodegenerative disorder such as Parkinson’s. Embedded in their oversized handles is an electronic system that senses the tremors and responds with counter-movements designed to keep the spoons’ business ends relatively stable. The handle moves, but the business end stays relatively stable, so the food doesn't fall off on its way to your mouth.

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September 15 2014

Artificial spleen cleans up blood


Researchers have developed a high-tech method to rid the body of infections — even those caused by unknown pathogens. A device inspired by the spleen can quickly clean blood of everything from Escherichia coli to Ebola, researchers report on 14 September in Nature Medicine.

Blood infections can be very difficult to treat, and can lead to sepsis, an often-fatal immune response.

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September 15 2014

Ethical trap: robot paralysed by choice of who to save


CAN we teach a robot to be good? Fascinated by the idea, roboticist Alan Winfield of Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK built an ethical trap for a robot – and was stunned by the machine's response.

In an experiment, Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm.

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September 15 2014

Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind


Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans.

HELIGOLAND, Germany — Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea.

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September 15 2014

Remember when we were all freaked out about the ozone? Our obsession worked


It sometimes feels as if environmental news is never good news, but that certainly isn’t true when it comes to the ozone layer. The United Nations has announced that the ozone layer is showing “signs of recovery.” Evidence has pointed to recovery for some time, but researchers have waited until they were confident that the hole in the ozone layer was beginning to heal. It’s not yet restored to perfect health — that will take a few more decades — but a significant corner has been turned.

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September 15 2014

Boom in Retiring Lab Chimpanzees Fills New Sanctuaries With Apes


KEITHVILLE, Louisiana—It's a few minutes before 8 a.m. at Chimp Haven, a sanctuary for retired research chimpanzees, and the air fills with their excited hoots and cries. Chimps in an open-air forested enclosure have spotted veterinarian Raven Jackson carrying a caddy packed with their morning's juice treats and frozen bananas. A half-dozen dark-haired chimpanzees crowd the wire metal gate and wait for her to dispense the goodies.

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September 15 2014

'Third eye' helps sea turtles sense changes in seasons


Each summer, leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate thousands of kilometers from their tropical breeding grounds to feed in cooler waters. Yet how the animals know when to begin their long journey back south at the end of the season has mostly remained a mystery. New findings, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, suggest that leatherback sea turtles may be able to sense seasonal changes in sunlight by means of an unpigmented spot on the crown of their head.

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September 14 2014

Lake Monster Exists, Concludes Icelandic Commission


In 2012 a video of what was claimed to be Iceland’s most famous lake monster went viral. The home video, claiming to depict a legendary monster named Lagarfljótsormurinn, showed a long, serpentine form apparently swimming in a glacial river in eastern Iceland.

Icelandic folktales have long told of a serpent in that lake. In their book “Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales,” folklorists May and Hallberg Hallmundsson describe one origin tale of the beast: “At one time, long, long ago, there was a woman living on a farm in the Lagarfljót district, close by the stream where it broadens into a lake.

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September 14 2014

Dinosaurs lost the ability to taste sugar; hummingbirds re-evolved it


Chickens are not fussy eaters. Any object resembling food is worth an exploratory peck. But give a chicken the choice between sugary sweets and seeds, and they will pick the grains every time. This is odd. Many animals, including our own sugar-mad species, salivate for sugar because it is the flavor of foods rich in energy. New research suggests that many birds’ lack of interest in sugar is the result of genes inherited from their dinosaur ancestors.

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September 14 2014

Is A Simulated Brain Conscious?


Imagine standing in an open field with a bucket of water balloons and a couple of friends. You've decided to play a game called "Mind." Each of you has your own set of rules. Maybe Molly will throw a water balloon at Bob whenever you throw a water balloon at Molly. Maybe Bob will splash both of you whenever he goes five minutes without getting hit -- or if it gets too warm out or if it's seven o'clock or if he's in a bad mood that day. The details don't matter.

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September 14 2014

New math and quantum mechanics: Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy


The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves. For most of the past century, the prevailing explanation of this conundrum has been what's called the "Copenhagen interpretation" -- which holds that, in some sense, a single particle really is a wave, smeared out across the universe, that collapses into a determinate location only when observed. But some founders of quantum physics championed an alternative interpretation, known as "pilot-wave theory".

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September 14 2014

Japanese woman is first recipient of next-generation stem cells


Surgeons implanted retinal tissue created after reverting the patient's own cells to 'pluripotent' state.

A Japanese woman in her 70s is the world's first recipient of cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, a technology that has created great expectations since it could offer the same advantages as embryo-derived cells but without some of the controversial aspects and safety concerns.

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September 14 2014

Mining for Antibiotics, Right Under Our Noses


Scientists today are still searching jungles, oceans and other corners of the world for microorganisms that make medicines. But in a new study published Thursday in the journal Cell, Dr. Fischbach and his colleagues suggest that we should also be looking inward.

Analyzing the bacteria that live in our bodies, the scientists identified genes for making over 3,000 previously unknown molecules that may prove to be useful drugs.


Related: Vaginal microbe yields novel antibiotic

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September 14 2014

Wyoming Cave Yields a Trove of Ice Age Fossils — and Ancient Animal DNA


A team of enterprising and adventurous scientists in Wyoming has just finished the first in a series of excavations at one of the largest deposits of Ice Age fossils in the United States.

At the bottom of a sinkhole as deep as an eight-story building, paleontologists have recovered well-preserved remains of giant camels, American lions, dire wolves and a cheetah-like big cat, among other finds.

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