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August 6 2014

What Do Great Musicians Have in Common? DNA


At age 13, jazz great Thelonious Monk ran into trouble at Harlem's Apollo Theater. The reason: he was too good. The famously precocious pianist was, as they say, a “natural,” and by that point had won the Apollo’s amateur competition so many times that he was barred from re-entering. To be sure, Monk practiced, a lot actually. But two new studies, and the fact that he taught himself to read music as a child before taking a single lesson, suggest that he likely had plenty of help from his genes.

The question of what accounts for the vast variability in people’s aptitudes for skilled and creative pursuits goes way back — are experts born with their skill, or do they acquire it?

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August 6 2014

Can Acupuncture Treat Depression?


A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to antidepressant medications, and new research suggests that acupuncture could be a promising option. One new study found the traditional Chinese practice to be as effective as antidepressants, and a different study found that acupuncture may help treat the medications' side effects.

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August 6 2014

Chili Peppers May Inhibit Gut Tumors


A spicy chemical may be able to slow down or reduce gut tumors, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that dietary capsaicin - the active ingredient in chili peppers - produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining the intestines of mice, triggering a reaction that ultimately reduces the risk of colorectal tumors.

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August 6 2014

The Case Against Chlorinated Tap Water


Could it interfere with the "good" bacteria in your gut?

The chlorination of municipal tap water is considered one of the 20th century's best public health ideas. The American Water Works Association credits the practice with increasing life expectancy by 50 percent over the past century by virtually eliminating water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. But chlorine in drinking water can cause health risks of its own.

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August 6 2014

Diet change – a solution to reduce water use?


Eating less meat would protect water resources in dry areas around the world, researchers at Aalto University have found.

Reducing the use of animal products can have a considerable impact on areas suffering scarce water resources, as meat production requires more water than other agricultural products.

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August 6 2014

What If California Runs Out of Water?


It would be a great premise for a Hollywood apocalyptic disaster thriller. Imagine that after several years of devastating drought, California's supply of water gradually vanished. As the reservoirs went bone dry, in Los Angeles water would stop flowing from faucets, while in California's Central Valley, crops would wither as irrigation ceased.


Related: 40 Million People Depend on the Colorado River. Now It's Drying Up.

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August 5 2014

New Nazca Lines geoglyphs uncovered by gales and sandstorms in Peru


High winds and sandstorms in Peru have revealed previously undiscovered geoglyphs in the ancient Nazca Lines.

Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre, a pilot and researcher, found the new shapes while flying over the desert last week, El Comercio reported.

He believes one of the geoglyphs depicts a snake 60 metres long and 4 metres wide, near the famous “hummingbird”.

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August 5 2014

Flores bones show features of Down syndrome, not a new 'hobbit' human


In October 2004, excavation of fragmentary skeletal remains from the island of Flores in Indonesia yielded what was called "the most important find in human evolution for 100 years." Its discoverers dubbed the find Homo floresiensis, a name suggesting a previously unknown species of human.

No substantial new bone discoveries have been made in the cave since the finding of LB1.

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August 5 2014

2,100-Year-Old King's Mausoleum Discovered in China


A 2,100-year-old mausoleum built for a king named Liu Fei has been discovered in modern-day Xuyi County in Jiangsu, China, archaeologists report.

Liu Fei died in 128 B.C. during the 26th year of his rule over a kingdom named Jiangdu, which was part of the Chinese empire.

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August 5 2014

Flip the birds: Migration began in the north not south


Every year many birds fly away to distant lands. But even though their journeys are familiar to us all, it turns out our understanding of them was, quite literally, backwards.

Most of the songbirds that migrate between North America and the tropics do it to escape harsh northern winters. That squares with the folk belief that "birds fly south for the winter", but is the exact opposite of what biologists thought – that tropical birds ventured north to escape overcrowding.

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August 5 2014

Beavers Are Mysteriously Back in Britain—but Not Entirely Welcome


Tom Buckley was overjoyed. Earlier this year the retired environmental scientist proudly documented the first family of beavers living wild in England since the species was hunted to near extinction in Britain several hundred years ago—a discovery that came almost by accident.

He first noticed a few tree stumps gnawed to pencil-like points on the River Otter, a shallow watercourse near his home in the town of Ottery St. Mary.

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August 5 2014

Horses Communicate With Their Eyes and Ears


Horses use a silent form of communication that involves moving, and paying attention to, eyes and ears, a new study has found.

The research, published in the journal Current Biology, shows how animal ears don't just move to better hear sounds. The movements have meaning to other horses.

"Most significantly, our results demonstrate that animals with large, mobile ears can use these as a visual cue to attention," co-authors Jennifer Wathan and Karen McComb wrote.

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August 5 2014

Japan to launch military space force to protect planet from falling space junk


Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019 that would initially be tasked with protecting satellites from dangerous debris orbiting the Earth, a report said.

The move is aimed at strengthening Japan-US cooperation in space, and comes after the countries pledged to boost joint work on monitoring space debris, Kyodo news agency said Sunday.

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August 5 2014

Saturn moon’s geysers draw water from subsurface sea


The seas of Saturn’s moon Enceladus are blasting into space.

Saltwater-spewing geysers on Enceladus’ icy surface — 101 of them — appear to connect to the moon’s warm subsurface ocean, scientists report July 28 in two new studies in the Astronomical Journal. The results suggest that these geysers offer an unprecedented chance to collect samples of a potentially habitable reservoir of liquid water away from Earth.

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August 5 2014

'Cool-Burning' Space Flames Could Make Greener Cars


Astronauts typically try to avoid starting fires in space, but new research on the behavior of flames in orbit could have benefits closer to home. In fact, this fiery research could lead to more-efficient car engines that contribute less pollution to the environment, according to a new study.

A series of experiments aboard the orbiting complex is investigating "cool-burning" flames in space — a type of fire that burns at lower temperatures than ordinary flames on Earth.

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August 5 2014

Do Your Potato Chips Have A Security Flaw?


Well, this is a bit creepy: Researchers have shown that they can recover various types of audio, including human speech, by filming and analyzing the tiny vibrations that sound creates in objects nearby. In one example, a person recited words, and this sound vibrated a nearby bag of potato chips. The researchers filmed the bag of chips with a high-speed camera, through sound-proof glass, and were then able to reconstruct what the person was saying with relatively good quality--you can make out the words, and recognize the person's voice.

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August 5 2014

Bottling up sound waves: Acoustic bottle beams hold promise for imaging, cloaking, levitation


Researchers have developed a technique for generating acoustic bottles in open air that can bend the paths of sound waves along prescribed convex trajectories. These self-bending bottle beams hold promise for ultrasonic imaging and therapy, and acoustic cloaking, levitation and particle manipulation.

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