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November 17 2014

How to Check if Your Universe Should Exist


If modern physics is to be believed, we shouldn’t be here. The meager dose of energy infusing empty space, which at higher levels would rip the cosmos apart, is a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times tinier than theory predicts. And the minuscule mass of the Higgs boson, whose relative smallness allows big structures such as galaxies and humans to form, falls roughly 100 quadrillion times short of expectations. Dialing up either of these constants even a little would render the universe unlivable.


Related: Maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle after all

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November 17 2014

Are we sending aliens the right messages?


Despite decades of sending sounds and pictures into space no aliens have responded. Have we been doing it wrong? Tracey Logan investigates, and discovers some novel attempts to make contact – including the smells of our planet.

Artist Carrie Paterson has long dreamed of beaming messages far out to the emptiness of space. Except her messages would have an extra dimension – smell.


Related: Is your religion ready to meet ET?

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November 17 2014

Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist


In high school biology, we are taught that there are three types of life: eukaryotes (that's us, and most everything else we often think of as life), bacteria, and archaea (extremophiles and other very primitive life forms). But some scientists are pretty sure that there are entirely different, undiscovered lifeforms that could be prevalent on Earth, and they remain undescribed because we're not good at looking for them.

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November 17 2014

New Scans of the Voynich Manuscript, a Medieval Book No One Can Read


The Voynich Manuscript is one of the most obsessed-over historical enigmas. A medieval book dating from the late 15th or 16th century, its strange, flowing script has never been deciphered, its origins never determined. The 113 plant illustrations it contains seem to depict no flora found on Earth, and throughout its vellum pages are visuals of the cosmos, a small army of naked women cavorting through pools of water, and the arcane alphabet that has so frustrated linguists and cryptographers.


Related: Elephant Water Clock Among 25,000 Pages of Medieval Arabic Scientific Manuscripts
Related: A book 100 years older than the Magna Carta goes digital

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November 17 2014

The Mystery of the Devil’s Bible


There is something about ancient books and texts that holds a certain sense of mystery and allure. To hold something that was once handled by ancient hands long ago brings with it a fascination about the past, and the enigmatic knowledge held within the worn, dusty pages beckons from across the vast field of time separating us from the past. Ancient books are just naturally mysterious, often inscrutable, and sometimes spooky. Surely one of the weirdest and most bizarre books from the ancient era is the one known as the The Codex Gigas, a text dating from the 13th century AD that is also known as the Giant Book, or more ominously as The Devil’s Bible.

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November 17 2014

Psychiatric Drug Crisis: Consider Legal & Illegal Drugs, Doc Suggests


Many of the drugs that treat mental health problems are discovered by serendipity, and because new drugs are scarce, researchers may need to look more closely at the possible psychiatric effects of existing prescription and illegal drugs, one scientist argues.

In an editorial published today (Nov. 12) in the journal Nature, Dr. David Nutt, a British psychiatrist, wrote that there is a crisis in the drug-discovery pipeline of mental health medicines.


Related: UK government’s drug laws survey was suppressed, Lib Dem minister says

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November 17 2014

Why ‘I’m so happy I could cry’ makes sense


The phrase “tears of joy” never made much sense to Yale psychologist Oriana Aragon. But after conducting a series of studies of such seemingly incongruous expressions, she now understands better why people cry when they are happy.

“People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions,” said Aragon, lead author of work to be published in the journal Psychological Science. “They seem to take place when people are overwhelmed with strong positive emotions, and people who do this seem to recover better from those strong emotions.”.

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November 17 2014

Could Depression Actually Be a Form of Infectious Disease?


Major depressive disorder (MDD) should be re-conceptualized as an infectious disease, according to a professor. A new article suggests that major depression may result from parasitic, bacterial, or viral infection. The article presents examples that illustrate possible pathways by which these microorganisms could contribute to the etiology of MDD.


Related: Hip-hop could help with depression and mental illness, says Cambridge University

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November 17 2014

Playing action video games can boost learning


A new study shows for the first time that playing action video games improves not just the skills taught in the game, but learning capabilities more generally.

“Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners,” explained Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “And they become better learners,” she said, “by playing the fast-paced action games.”.

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November 17 2014

Feelings of Disgust May Lead People to Lie, Cheat


While feelings of disgust may lead people to behaviors like lying and cheating, cleanliness can help people return to ethical behavior, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Rice University, Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University highlight the powerful impact emotions have on individual decision-making in their latest report.

"As an emotion, disgust is designed as a protection".

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November 17 2014

Autism’s Gut-Brain Connection


Stress can send your stomach into a painful tailspin, causing cramps, spasms and grumbling. But trouble in the gut can also affect the brain.

This two-way relationship may be an unlikely key to solving one of medicine's most pressing—and perplexing—mysteries: autism.


Related: Short men more likely to die from dementia, Edinburgh University finds

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November 17 2014

Fish oil shows promise in preventing psychosis


Seven years after the end of a trial in which young people at severe risk of developing psychotic disorders were given fish oil tablets, most remain mentally healthy, a new study has found.

The study, presented today at the International Early Psychosis Conference in Japan, lends weight to the theory that concentrated fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, may help prevent the development of psychosis.


Related: Mediterranean diet is best way to tackle obesity, say doctors

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November 17 2014

Brain's taste secrets uncovered


The brain has specialist neurons for each of the five taste categories - salty, bitter, sour, sweet and umami - US scientists have discovered.

The study, published in the journal Nature, should settle years of debate on how the brain perceives taste.


Related: Learning How Little We Know About the Brain

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November 17 2014

Females protect offspring by forcing males to compete through sperm instead of violence


Latest research shows the females of some mammal species will have many mates to ensure unclear paternity, so that males can’t resort to killing their rival’s offspring for fear of killing their own. This forces males to evolve to compete through sperm quantity, leading to ever-larger testicles. Scientists find that as testis size increases, infanticide disappears.


Alt: Male Sexual Aggression: What Chimps Can Reveal About People

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November 17 2014

How man’s best friend could hold the key to anti-ageing


Scientists are targeting a new set of recruits to test anti-ageing drugs: pet dogs. And according to their plans, not any old pooch will do. The researchers want to concentrate their trials on large canines.


Related: New natural supplement relieves canine arthritis
Related: Billions Have Been Spent on Technology to Find IEDs, but Dogs Still Do It Better

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November 16 2014

Woolly mammoth cloning war: Scientists divided over ethics of attempting to revive extinct mammal


Will woolly mammoths stride the Siberian plains once again? DNA samples from an exceptionally well preserved extinct Mammuthus, found in the snowy wastes of Siberia, have raised the prospect of cloning.

But scientists are divided about raising the species from the dead, 10,000 years after becoming extinct.

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November 16 2014

'Ancient monster' surfaces in Siberian river


Extinct reptile with 'toothy grin' found by fishermen as they rafted in remote area of the Yamal peninsula.

Is it a mesosaur? Or some other kind of dinosaur? No-one is quite sure yet. Siberian zoologists are rushing to the site to extract the crocodile-like remains before they are covered by ice and washed away in the spring floods next year.


Related: Farmer Claims Skull Found in Chained Box is From a Werewolf

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