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November 4 2014

Largest Sunspot in 24 Years Wows Scientists, But Also Mystifies


The biggest sunspot to grace the face of the sun in more than two decades just rotated out of Earth's view, but it was responsible for kicking up some truly amazing solar activity this week.

The sunspot (called Active Region 12192 or AR 2192) shot off four powerful flares in four days recently, with many more smaller flares sprinkled in as well. The sunspot region was about the size of the planet Jupiter and is the largest solar flare observed in 24 years.

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November 4 2014

Supernova shock waves create glowing arcs across sky


Ghostly arcs that haunt the sky may come from an expanding shock-wave shell that is pressing in on our solar system.

Although they are invisible at optical wavelengths, looking at the sky in radio waves, X-rays or gamma rays turns up giant streaks across the heavens. Dubbed "radio loops", they have perplexed astronomers since their discovery in the 1950s.

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November 4 2014

Australians lead efforts to move space junk with lasers


Hundreds of thousands of objects are orbiting in high-velocity swarms around the Earth. Many of these, in the event of a collision, could ignite catastrophic accidents junking the world's orbital telecommunications networks.

Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS) is leading efforts to track this potentially killer debris 38,000km (24,000 miles) above our heads, and is at the forefront of a boom in Australian space research.

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November 4 2014

China is shooting down drones with lasers


Today, China revealed its first anti-drone laser weapon, on the heels of a similar deployment by the US military earlier this year. According to state media, the system can bring down a drone within five seconds of locating the target, and is operable within a 1.2 mile radius of the installation. The system is designed for drones flying at altitudes around 1600 feet and at speeds of just over 100 miles per hour, putting most military drones within reach of the device.

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November 4 2014

New tech aims to improve communication between dogs and humans


North Carolina State University researchers have developed a suite of technologies that can be used to enhance communication between dogs and humans, which has applications in everything from search and rescue to service dogs to training our pets.

"We've developed a platform for computer-mediated communication between humans and dogs that opens the door to new avenues for interpreting dogs' behavioral signals and sending them clear and unambiguous cues in return."

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November 4 2014

Undercover penguin reduces wildlife stress


The use of remotely operated rovers to study penguins and seals in their natural habitats is less invasive and stressful for the animals, according to a new study.

The findings, published in Nature Methods, also suggest that the rover's lower impact on animal behavior results in the collection of more accurate scientific data.

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November 4 2014

Birds found using human musical scales for the first time


The flutelike songs of the male hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) are some of the most beautiful in the animal kingdom. Now, researchers have found that these melodies employ the same mathematical principles that underlie many Western and non-Western musical scales—the first time this has been seen in any animal outside humans.


Alt: This Bird’s Songs Share Mathematical Hallmarks With Human Music

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November 4 2014

Deer with 'Vampire Fangs' Spotted for 1st Time in Decades


An endangered deer with vampirelike fangs was spotted for the first time in nearly 60 years, in a remote forest in northeastern Afghanistan.

The fanged creature is known as the Kashmir musk deer, and it's native to the Himalayas of northern India, Pakistan's Kashmir region and northern Afghanistan. Only the male deer have fangs, and they use them during mating season to compete for females. A team of researchers scoured Afghanistan's Nuristan province during 2008 and 2009, and recorded five sightings of the animal.

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November 4 2014

Lone Wolf May Be Roaming Grand Canyon National Park


A wayward gray wolf has been spotted several times this month around the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, according to conservationists.

The wolf, which is wearing an inactive radio collar, could be the first of its species to roam Arizona in 70 years; gray wolves were exterminated from the state in the 1940s.

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November 4 2014

Diet affects pesticide resistance in honey bees


Feeding honey bees a natural diet of pollen makes them significantly more resistant to pesticides than feeding them an artificial diet, according to a team of researchers, who also found that pesticide exposure causes changes in expression of genes that are sensitive to diet and nutrition.

"Honey bees are exposed to hundreds of pesticides, while they are foraging on flowers and also when beekeepers apply chemicals to control bee pests".

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November 4 2014

Scientists reverse ageing process in mice; early human trials showing 'promising results


Scientists from Harvard and the University of New South Wales say they have discovered how to reverse the ageing process.

The research has focused on mice, but early clinical trials have also been conducted on humans.

The scientists said they switched youthful genes on and older genes off, using naturally occurring proteins and molecules.

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November 4 2014

New study suggests only 8.2% of our DNA is functional


Controversial new research claims that only a small fraction of the human genome is actually doing something important.

Over the years, there's been plenty of back and forth over how much of our DNA is important - for decades much of it was thought of as “junk DNA”, but geneticists have gradually come to believe that some of these seemingly pointless segments of DNA may be crucial to regulating the rest of the genome.

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November 4 2014

A possible alternative to antibiotics


Scientists from the University of Bern have developed a novel substance for the treatment of severe bacterial infections without antibiotics, which would prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

Ever since the development of penicillin almost 90 years ago, antibiotics have remained the gold standard in the treatment of bacterial infections. However, the WHO has repeatedly warned of a growing emergence of bacteria that develop antibiotic resistance. Once antibiotics do no longer protect from bacterial infection, a mere pneumonia might be fatal.

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November 4 2014

Study shows clear new evidence for mind-body connection


For the first time, researchers have shown that practising mindfulness meditation or being involved in a support group has a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors.


Related: Meditation makes you more creative, study suggests

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November 4 2014

Breast milk stem cells may be incorporated into baby


Breast milk is known for being full of goodies – but could that include stem cells from mum that go on to transform into parts of the baby's body? Preliminary evidence has shown this happens in mice, suggesting it also does in people.

Stem cells have the unusual ability to regenerate themselves and develop into a variety of tissues. Several sources of stem cells are being developed for therapeutic use, including embryos, umbilical-cord blood and adult tissues.

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November 3 2014

How Unconditional Love Helps Kids with Setbacks


Teens who spend some time thinking about situations in which their peers thought well of them, no matter what they did, may have an easier time coping with setbacks, new findings show.

Adolescents in the study who wrote an essay about a time when they felt "unconditional regard" from their peers had fewer negative feelings about themselves after getting a bad report card than kids who wrote about a time when they felt their peers' regard was "conditional," the researchers found.

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November 3 2014

Why you should always make important decisions on an empty stomach.


If you’re anything like me, you get pretty grumpy when you’re hungry (a condition also known as “hangry“). However, according to this study, being hungry also helps you make better decisions. To test this, the researchers forced subjects to fast for a night. When the subjects arrived at the laboratory the next day, the scientists served some of them breakfast, but made the others wait. All of them then took the “Iowa Gambling Task”, a psychological test based on gambling that is supposed to simulate real-life decision making.

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