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September 17 2014

Did Time In This Dungeon Turn Vlad Into The Impaler?


The real story of Vlad III of Wallachia, better known as Vlad the Impaler and inspiration for Count Dracula, includes a period when he was held hostage in Tokat Castle in Tokat, Turkey. Archeologists restoring the castle have recently discovered two dungeons, a secret tunnel, storage rooms and more that they believe was used to imprison Vlad.

What’s interesting about this discovery is that it brings to light what may be one of the reasons Vlad went bad.

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September 17 2014

Bones Tell the Grisly Tale Behind King Richard III's Death


Researchers say marks on Richard III's bones confirm the centuries-old saga of the English king's death — including claims that the killing blows were delivered to his skull, and that vengeful foes stabbed his corpse after death.

"The contemporary accounts of the battle tally with what we've seen on the skeleton," said the University of Leicester's Sarah Hainsworth, one of the authors of a study published Tuesday by The Lancet, a British-based medical journal. "It's a great testament to modern forensic science and engineering that we can go back more than 500 years in history and learn how a person of that age died.".

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September 16 2014

Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus


Christopher Columbus probably used the map above as he planned his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. It represents much of what Europeans knew about geography on the verge discovering the New World, and it’s packed with text historians would love to read—if only the faded paint and five centuries of wear and tear hadn’t rendered most of it illegible.

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September 16 2014

Divers sure of new finds from 'ancient computer' shipwreck


Archaeologists set out Monday to use a revolutionary new deep sea diving suit to explore the ancient shipwreck where one of the most remarkable scientific objects of antiquity was found.

The so-called Antikythera Mechanism, a 2nd-century BC device known as the world's oldest computer, was discovered by sponge divers in 1900 off a remote Greek island in the Aegean.

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September 16 2014

Walking or Biking to Work May Make You Happier


Walking to work is not only good for your body; it may also benefit your psychological health, a new study from England suggests.

In the study, the researchers analyzed information from nearly 18,000 commuters in England who answered questions about their well-being, such as whether they experienced feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness or sleepless nights in the last few weeks. Based on those answers, the researchers gave each participant a well-being score. Participants completed the survey for at least three consecutive years between 1991 and 2009.

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September 16 2014

Brains of kidney donors seem built for generosity


As if giving a perfectly good kidney to a total stranger wasn’t enough of a distinction, it turns out that extreme altruists have bigger brains and are better than the rest of us at reading signs of distress in facial expressions.

That’s what neuroscientists at Georgetown University found when they rounded up 39 kidney donors and scanned their brains, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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September 16 2014

Humans and mice can regenerate missing rib


Mammals can’t regenerate lost limbs like salamanders can, but they can repair large sections of their ribs.

Using CT imaging, researchers monitored the healing of a human rib that had been partially removed by a surgeon. The eight centimeters of missing bone and one centimeter of missing cartilage did partially repair after six months.

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September 16 2014

Schizophrenia not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders


New research shows that schizophrenia isn’t a single disease but a group of eight genetically distinct disorders, each with its own set of symptoms. The finding could be a first step toward improved diagnosis and treatment for the debilitating psychiatric illness.

The research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is reported online Sept. 15 in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

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September 16 2014

Here's the Hallucination You (and Everyone Else) Have Experienced


Think you've never hallucinated? You're wrong. Almost every modern person in a developed country has had this hallucination - some populations have it so predictably that within a few months, ninety-five percent experience it.

Hallucinations are far more common than most people suppose. People suppose they happen very rarely because we associate the word "hallucination" with dancing pink elephants or ghostly women in white. In reality, hallucinations are not dramatic scenes in which people wail, "Is this a dagger I see before me?" Instead they are more like, "Is that a black cat in the room? Oh, no, it's just a shadow.".

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September 16 2014

Human 'language gene' makes mice smarter


It was named the language gene before we really understood what it did. Now mice given the human version of the FOXP2 gene are shedding light on how speech evolved in early humans.

Mice with the gene seem to be better at learning to do a task automatically or unconsciously – something we do when we learn a new route to work, for example.


Related: Mice given human brain gene learned tasks faster : study

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September 16 2014

Synthetic female decoys might be the next big thing in male insect zapping


Decoys successfully attract and kill emerald ash borer beetles, study finds

When trying to curb the the spread of invasive insect species, one of the most important steps is actually being able to catch them. Typical traps, such as those use to catch the tree-ravaging emerald ash borer, use scents such as pheromones to attract males (males are easier to catch because of their mating behavior, which consists of following and landing on females). But scent-based traps aren't ideal.

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September 16 2014

Do Dogs Fall for Magic Tricks?


When Steve Macknik and I talk to audiences about our research on magic and neuroscience, one question that often comes up during Q&A is whether animals can experience magic. There is no easy answer: animals can certainly be deceived, and numerous research studies show that virtually every species, from bower birds to bees, is susceptible to illusions. But do animals feel wonderment, awe, or sense that they are experiencing the impossible?

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September 16 2014

MIT's Robotic Cheetah Can Now Run And Jump While Untethered


Well, we knew it had to happen someday. A DARPA-funded robotic cheetah has been released into the wild, so to speak. A new algorithm developed by MIT researchers now allows their quadruped to run and jump — while untethered — across a field of grass.

The Pentagon, in an effort to investigate technologies that allow machines to traverse terrain in unique ways (well, at least that's what they tell us), has been funding (via DARPA) the development of a robotic cheetah.

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September 16 2014

Invisibility cloaks closer thanks to 'digital metamaterials'


The concept of "digital metamaterials" – a simple way of designing metamaterials with bizarre optical properties that could hasten the development of devices such as invisibility cloaks and superlenses – is reported in a paper published today in Nature Materials.

Metamaterials are artificially engineered out of microscopic subunits – such as glass, metal or plastic – arranged in a repeating fashion. Once assembled, these metamaterials possess unique properties, such as interacting with light in unusual ways, which aren't often seen in natural materials.

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September 16 2014

What Was That Strange Streak Of Light In The Bay Area Sky Friday Morning?


People across the Bay Area reported seeing a streak of light shoot across the sky Friday around 6 a.m.

About 30 residents saw a white light with fog or smoke billowing out.

“I am used to seeing planes early in the morning with lights, but this was different,” said one bystander. “This had something coming out of it, it wasn’t just the light. I could see it spraying something.”.

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September 16 2014

Saturn's Weird Fast-Changing Ring Baffles Scientists


One of Saturn's iconic rings looks much different today than it did just a few decades ago, and scientists aren't sure why.

NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft spotted many bright clumps in Saturn's F ring when they flew by the gas giant in the early 1980s. But observations made by the space agency's Cassini probe from 2004 to 2010 reveal relatively few of the features, a new study reports.

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September 16 2014

Aliens on MOONS? Hunting for ET on planets' satellites may be our best chance at first contact


It’s now almost 20 years since the first alien planet was discovered in orbit around a sun-like star.

Since then huge advances have led to the discovery of more than a thousand extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, which are now being catalogued.

But in the hunt for life in the universe, some experts have begun to suggest that our best bet might not be the planets themselves but habitable moons in their vicinity.

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