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June 16 2014

Vanadium: The metal that may soon be powering your neighbourhood


Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you've probably never heard of - vanadium.

Hawaii's problem is too much sunshine - or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

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June 16 2014

Nuclear industry explores accident-resistant fuel


The explosions that damaged a crippled Japanese nuclear plant during a disaster that forced mass evacuations in 2011 show what can happen when nuclear fuel overheats.

In response to the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, the U.S. government dramatically increased funding to develop tougher protective skins for nuclear fuel, hoping to spur innovation in designs that hadn't changed much in years. While the U.S. Department of Energy was spending $2 million before the accident on future fuel designs, the funding reached as much as $30 million afterward.

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June 16 2014

To cut down on sugar just change the background music


Playing 'sweet' sounding music over dinner could allow you to lower the amount of sugar in food without changing the taste in a phenomenon dubbed 'sonic seasoning' by experimental psychologists at Oxford University

Banishing excess sugar and salt from diets is a goal for many but the thought of bland, tasteless food often puts off people from ditching the additives.

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June 16 2014

Are Human Pheromones Real?


Strange as it may sound, some scientists suspect that the humble armpit could be sending all kinds of signals from casual flirtation to sounding the alarm. That’s because the body’s secretions, some stinky and others below the threshold your nose can detect, may be rife with chemical messages called pheromones. Yet despite half a century of research into these subtle cues, we have yet to find direct evidence of their existence in humans.

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June 16 2014

Citrus Growers Manufacture Huge Amounts of DMT


It may surprise you to learn that common citrus trees like oranges and lemons are actually Schedule I substances, in the same legal category as heroin. I know it sounds absurd, but it is absolutely true. Recent analysis published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Servillo et al. 2013) found that several citrus plants, including lemons and oranges, contain N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and 5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (bufotenine).

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June 16 2014

Namibia's 'fairy circles': Nature's greatest mystery?


From the air, the Namibian desert looks like it has a bad case of chicken pox. Spread across 1,100 miles of a narrow strip sit a smattering of barren polka dots, otherwise known as fairy circles. These sizable craters measure 10- to 65-feet in diameter, and represent one of nature's greatest mysteries.

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June 16 2014

Human Ancestors Got Herpes from Chimps' Ancestors


A herpes virus that infects humans originated in chimpanzees before it jumped into our early human ancestors, according to a new study.

Researchers found that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago, whereas herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) was transferred from ancient chimpanzees to human ancestors such as Homo erectus about 1.6 million years ago, long before the rise of early modern humans about 200,000 years ago.

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June 16 2014

Navy faces daunting task of counting desert petroglyphs


Archaeologists know it as Renegade Canyon, a lava gorge in desert badlands with more than 1 million images of hunters, spirits and bighorn sheep etched in sharp relief on cliff faces and boulders.

But this desert is in the heart of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, and it is where the Navy and Marines develop and test advanced bomb and missile systems.

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June 16 2014

Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago


An archeological dig has revealed artefacts of early occupation so old they rival the dates of those found at sites of the earliest human settlement in Australia.

The discovery of the artefacts of animal bone and charcoal at the Ganga Maya Cave (named by traditional owners meaning 'house on the hill') in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are the subject of a scientific paper not yet submitted to archaeological journals.

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June 16 2014

Archaeologists discover Britain's longest road to be 10,000 year old


Archaeologists were stunned to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement alongside the A1, which stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh.

The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations.

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June 16 2014

Ancient Egyptian remedies


The ancient Egyptians, who embalmed their deceased so carefully, must have had a profound knowledge of anatomy. This is shown in tomb reliefs depicting surgeons dealing with patients and in famous medical texts such as those in the ancient Egyptian Ebers and Edwin Smith papyri.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus who visited Egypt around 440 BCE wrote extensively of his observations of ancient Egyptian medical practices.

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June 16 2014

Mexico’s mysterious Mayan ruins at Palenque, now accessible from the air


From seat 7A, I look down to see miles of dense rain forest blanketing the ground below me. I’m 10,000 feet above the Mexican state of Chiapas, coming in for a landing at Palenque, where an ancient Mesoamerican city flourished for five centuries, until its Mayan inhabitants mysteriously abandoned it, leaving their temples, homes and palaces to be reclaimed by the encroaching forest, not to be rediscovered for nearly 900 years.

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June 16 2014

Drunken revels depicted in 1800 year old mural


Since its discovery in 1969 Los bebedores or The Drinkers, is a large pre-Hispanic mural that has remained hidden from public view. However, visitors can now see the mural at the Mexican archaeological zone of Cholula near Puebla for a limited period only.

An initiative was instituted a decade ago by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to look into conservation of the mural.

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June 16 2014

Ancient Roman Sanctuary Discovered in France


In Northern France’s Picardy region about 35 kilometers north of Paris in the city of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, archeologists have uncovered an ancient Roman sanctuary dating back to the second century, which has no equivalent in Roman Gaul.

This sanctuary, which measures 70 meters by 105 meters, has two small pavilions in the back, of which only the foundations remain. In the center, the Cella, visitors could access a dramatic masonry platform via a front staircase.

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June 16 2014

Court records reveal moment society became more civilized


Trial transcripts from London’s oldest court, the Old Bailey, chronicle 239 years of criminal history ranging from scandalous murders to sheep theft. A research team wondered if these documents reflect Western society’s “civilizing process,” a centuries-long period when violence levels plummeted and the modern justice system took shape.

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June 16 2014

First Farmers Were Also Sailors


When hunter-gatherers in the Middle East began to settle down and cultivate crops about 10,500 years ago, they became the world’s first farmers. But two new papers suggest that they were at home on both the land and the sea: Studies of ancient and modern human DNA, including the first reported ancient DNA from early Middle Eastern farmers, indicate that agriculture spread to Europe via a coastal route, probably by farmers using boats to island hop across the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

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June 16 2014

Studies show movements of continents speeding up after slow 'middle age'


Two studies show that the movement rate of plates carrying the Earth's crust may not be constant over time. This could provide a new explanation for the patterns observed in the speed of evolution and has implications for the interpretation of climate models. The work is presented today at Goldschmidt 2014, the premier geochemistry conference taking place in Sacramento, California, USA.

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