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June 10 2014

The Strange Link Between Your Digital Music and Napoleon’s Invasion of Egypt


In 1798 Joseph Fourier, a 30-year-old professor at the École Polytechnique in Paris, received an urgent message from the minister of the interior informing him that his country required his services, and that he should “be ready to depart at the first order.” Two months later, Fourier set sail from Toulon as part of a 25,000-strong military fleet under the command of General Napoleon Bonaparte, whose unannounced objective was the invasion of Egypt.

Fourier was one of 167 eminent scholars, the savants, assembled for the Egyptian expedition. Their presence reflected the French Revolution’s ideology of scientific progress, and Napoleon, a keen amateur mathematician, liked to surround himself with colleagues who shared his interests.

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June 10 2014

Archaeologists discover 4,000-year-old tomb from 11th dynasty in Luxor


Spanish archaeologists have discovered a 4,000-year-old pharaonic tomb belonging to a leader from the 11th dynasty of Egypt in Luxor, the antiquities ministry said on Monday.

The wide surface of the tomb showed it was that of "someone from the royal family or a high-ranking statesman," the antiquities minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, said.

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June 10 2014

Don Quixote: Hunt for author Cervantes' remains narrows


Forensic scientists looking for the body of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes say they have found five possible sites at a Madrid church.

The author of Don Quixote died in 1616 and is considered one of Spain's most important literary figures.

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June 10 2014

'Incredibly important' medieval find at Llanllyr, Ceredigion


Archaeologists says they have discovered an "incredibly important" medieval convent, cemetery and Tudor mansion in Ceredigion.

The location of Llanllyr nunnery in the Aeron Valley had been a mystery until now.

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June 9 2014

The Human Face Evolved from a Violent Past, Say Researchers


Scientists have reported a study that suggests that all human males can trace their roots to an ancestor with violent tendencies -- a hominin who was not a gentle, 'noble savage' whose descendents were later corrupted or changed by the onset of society, as depicted or suggested by many theorists.


Related: Did violence shape our faces?

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June 9 2014

New evidence links air pollution to autism, schizophrenia


A new study describes how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia. The mice performed poorly in tests of short-term memory, learning ability, and impulsivity.

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June 9 2014

Mercury Levels Off the Chart in Some Shark Meat


A sharp dietary warning emerged from the Sharks International Conference taking place in Durban, South Africa this week, iol Scitech reported. According to a presenter at the gathering, eating shark meat could kill you.

Southern Cross University researcher Jann Gilbert said that in three species of shark mercury and arsenic levels were found to be well above those considered safe by Australia and New Zealand's Food Standards Authority.

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June 9 2014

The dolphin who loved me


In the 1960s, Margaret Lovatt was part of a Nasa-funded project to communicate with dolphins. Soon she was living with 'Peter' 24 hours a day in a converted house. Christopher Riley reports on an experiment that went tragically wrong.


Related YouTube video: Teaching a dolphin to speak English - The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins: Preview - BBC Four

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June 9 2014

Computer becomes first to pass Turing Test in artificial intelligence milestone


A programme that convinced humans that it was a 13-year-old boy has become the first computer ever to pass the Turing Test. The test — which requires that computers are indistinguishable from humans — is considered a landmark in the development of artificial intelligence, but academics have warned that the technology could be used for cybercrime.

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June 9 2014

Chatty Robot Makes Friends Fast


A chatty humanoid robot whose makers claim it can understand people's emotions made its first friends Friday as it struck up conversations with shoppers in Tokyo.

And the device -- named Pepper by its designers -- proved an effective marketing tool for mobile carrier SoftBank, delighting managers who put it to work collecting customer opinions.

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June 9 2014

Engineers control 'robotic sperm' with magnets


Engineers have built a sperm-like robot that they can control with magnets.

The simple design has a metal-coated head and a flexible body about six times longer than a human sperm.

Using a magnetic field no stronger than a fridge magnet, the team made the robot "swim" forward and steered it towards a fixed point.

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June 9 2014

Are squiggly lines the future of password security?


As more people use smart phones or tablets to pay bills, make purchases, store personal information and even control access to their houses, the need for robust password security has become more critical than ever.

A new Rutgers University study shows that free-form gestures – sweeping fingers in shapes across the screen of a smart phone or tablet – can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps.

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June 9 2014

Volcano Coughs Up New Fuel Cell Catalyst


This one begins like a chapter from Jules Verne’s novel The Mysterious Island and ends up with a new fuel cell catalyst that could lead to cost-competitive fuel cell vehicles. The new catalyst is based on an enzyme called H2ase S–77, which was discovered on Kyushu Island in Japan at an active volcano called Mt. Aso, by a researcher from Kyushu University.

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June 9 2014

Another Glimpse of 'New Physics' at the LHC?


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is currently on the long road to re-start, but for physicists pouring over the huge wealth of data stored from countless trillions of particle collisions already carried out by the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the work never paused.

And this week, at the LHC Physics meeting in New York City, researchers who are currently analyzing data from one of the LHC’s seven detectors announced an intriguing finding. As reported by Symmetry Magazine, the finding — which isn’t quite a discovery (yet) — focuses on the production of electrons, muons and taus in the post-collision soup of particles that are produced inside the LHCb detector.

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June 9 2014

What's going on with the sun? Scientists puzzled by oddities in sunspot cycle


The sun has been acting strangely of late, prompting some solar physicists to suggest that once current sunspot activity peaked, which appeared to happen last fall, it could tank and remain that way for several decades.

A prolonged period with few or no spots would have a slight, temporary cooling effect on Earth's climate and a general calming effect on space weather, which would be good news for astronauts and satellites.

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June 9 2014

Salads in space? Astronauts try growing own veggies


As salad ingredients go, romaine lettuce ranks somewhere between limp carrots and dried radishes on the excitement scale.

But add a dash of outer space, and suddenly that frilly leaf is looking downright exotic, especially to astronauts used to food wrapped in plastic.

Gardening in space could become a reality soon if NASA is able to grow its first crop of romaine lettuce on the International Space Station.

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June 9 2014

Alien Planet Identities May Be Unmasked by Examining Parent Stars


The kinds of alien planets that orbit distant stars may be revealed by taking a close look at the elements that make up those parent stars, researchers say.

Astronomers have so far confirmed the existence of more than 1,000 planets beyond our solar system with the aid of NASA's Kepler spacecraft and other telescopes. They are investigating thousands more candidate worlds to see if they, too, are exoplanets, or extrasolar planets.

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