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September 4 2014

Deep sea 'mushroom' may be new branch of life


A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Australian coast has defied classification in the tree of life.

A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom.

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September 4 2014

Egypt’s oldest pyramid being destroyed by company hired to restore it, claim activists


IT’S an invaluable piece of history, yet the oldest pyramid in Egypt is being destroyed by the company hired to restore it, say activists.

According to the Non-stop Robberies movement, the company hired by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities to restore the Pyramid of Djoser, in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara, has broken preservation laws requiring that any new construction be less than 5 per cent of the preserved structure.

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September 4 2014

Archaeologists Train "Monuments Men" to Save Syria's Past


The ancient city of Dura-Europos sits on a bluff above the Tigris River a few miles from Syria's border with Iraq, its mud-brick walls facing a bleak expanse of desert. Just a year ago the city's precise grid of streets—laid down by Greek and Roman residents 2,000 years ago—was largely intact. Temples, houses, and a substantial Roman outpost were preserved for centuries by the desert sands.

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September 4 2014

Why Do We Build Walls Around Our Cities?


At almost the instant when humans started building cities, we figured out ways to put walls around them. The often violent history behind those walls is still affecting urban life today, in ways you may not realize.

In the early 1960s, eminent scholar Lewis Mumford published a massive tome called The City in History. He argued that cities evolved largely as military entities, and their walls were the most obvious sign of their profoundly warlike character.

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September 4 2014

3D printer in space: What will it print first?


The first 3D printer ever to fly in space will blast off this month, and NASA has high hopes for the innovative device's test runs on the International Space Station.

The 3D printer, which is scheduled to launch toward the orbiting lab Sept. 19 aboard SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, could help lay the foundation for broader in-space manufacturing capabilities, NASA officials said. The end result could be far less reliance on resupply from Earth, leading to cheaper and more efficient missions to faraway destinations such as Mars.

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September 4 2014

Welcome to Laniakea: our home in the cosmos


We are part of a galactic supercluster called Laniakea, which contains a hundred million billion stars, according to a new study.

The discovery, reported in the journal Nature, provides our most detailed cosmic address yet.

"This has been a work of decades, but it's a very human quality to want to know where we live in the bigger scheme of things,".

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September 4 2014

Researchers discover new clues to determining the solar cycle


Approximately every 11 years, the sun undergoes a complete personality change from quiet and calm to violently active. The height of the sun's activity, known as solar maximum, is a time of numerous sunspots, punctuated with profound eruptions that send radiation and solar particles out into the far reaches of space.


Related: Have Scientists Solved The Mystery Behind The Sun's 11-Year Cycle?

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September 4 2014

Children’s brains shaped by music training


Musical training tunes the developing brain, scientists report in the Sept. 3 Journal of Neuroscience. After two years in a music enrichment program, children in Los Angeles had more sophisticated brain responses to spoken syllables than kids who had only a year of training.

Researchers led by neuroscientist Nina Kraus of Northwestern University studied 44 children enrolled with the Harmony Project, an organization that brings music training to kids in low-income communities.

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September 4 2014

Nature or nurture? It's all about the message


Simply telling people that hard work is more important than genetics causes positive changes in the brain and may make them willing to try harder, a study shows. "Giving people messages that encourage learning and motivation may promote more efficient performance," said the lead investigator. "In contrast, telling people that intelligence is genetically fixed may inadvertently hamper learning.".

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September 4 2014

Xenon, Argon Banned for Athletes. Is Krypton Next?


An-inert gas used to anesthetize hospital patients, as a satellite propellant and inside movie projector bulbs has been officially banned by for use by endurance athletes looking to boost their oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Xenon and its Nobel gas companion, argon, are now on the World Anti-Doping Authority’s list of banned substances list for athletes competing in all Olympic events beginning Sept. 1.

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September 4 2014

Vest And Scarf Made From Spider Silk


This silk scarf and vest have a nice drape and pretty color, but that's not why everyone here at Popular Science covets them. No, we're wishing they were ours because they're made of super-strong, transgenic spider silk. Functional and good-looking! Our favorite.

The clothes were woven from silk produced by silkworms with a spider gene engineered into them. A mix of spider and silkworm proteins actually emerges from the spinners in the silkworms' mouths. The resulting hybrid material is made up of less than 1 percent spider proteins, yet it's 53 percent tougher than regular silk.

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September 4 2014

Greenery power: Charge your phone using a plant


The way we power our towns and cities is changing. Solar, wave and wind energy are just some of the renewable sources that could, with time, make our current reliance on fossil fuels a thing of the past.

But what about clean, renewable energy from the planet's lawns, plants, paddy fields and wetlands? It sounds a little outlandish, but for nearly a decade researchers in the Dutch town of Wageningen have been painstakingly working towards that very goal.

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September 4 2014

New technology could help make deforested land fertile once again


A new technology being developed by Wake Forest researchers could help reverse the devastating effects of deforestation and mining on the world's largest rainforest.

Few people grasp the importance of the Amazon. It drives the world's climate and weather patterns and annually absorbs 1.5 billion metric tons of C02.

This priceless resource is nevertheless being destroyed at an alarming rate. Since 1978, over 289,000 square miles of Amazon Rainforest has been lost across South America.

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September 4 2014

To Save A Species, Scientists Trick Jays With An Egg Bait-And-Switch


Portia Halbert is hiking through a quiet redwood forest in Butano State Park, an hour south of San Francisco, when she spots a blue egg on the ground — generally a very bad sign.

The blue eggs are laid by marbled murrelets, a small, endangered bird that eats out at sea and nests in the forest here.

But this egg is a bait and switch: It's not a murrelet egg at all.

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September 4 2014

Shut up and pet me! Dogs prefer petting to vocal praise


It’s probably no surprise that dogs like to be petted. But do they prefer petting over other types of attention? Here, two scientists from the University of Florida tested whether dogs would prefer to be petted or given vocal praise, and whether it mattered if the petting/praise came from an owner or a stranger. Turns out that dogs love pets, regardless of who is doing the petting, and they never seem to get tired of being petted.

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September 4 2014

Pigeon Gamblers Treat Risk Just Like Humans Do


If you watch poker coverage on television, you probably won’t hear the commentators compare players to pigeons. Maybe they should. The birds don’t play a great game of hold ‘em, but the way they think about risk might be strikingly similar to the way we do.

Researchers discovered this by putting humans and birds through a basic study of risky behavior.

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September 3 2014

Cockatoos go to carpentry school


Goffin's cockatoos can learn how to make and use wooden tools from each other, a new study has found.

The discovery, made by scientists from Oxford University, the University of Vienna, and the Max Planck Institute at Seewiesen, is thought to be the first controlled experimental evidence for the social transmission of tool use in any bird species.

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