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August 1 2014

Odd Cause of Gaping Siberian Holes Possibly Found


A trio of mysterious gaping holes in northern Siberia has spawned many theories about the craters' origin, but scientists have suggested some concrete explanations.

In mid-July, reindeer herders stumbled across a crater that was approximately 260 feet (80 meters) wide, on the Yamal Peninsula, whose name means "end of the world," The Siberian Times reported. Since then, two new chasms — a 50-foot (15 m) crater in the Taz district and a 200- to 330-foot (60 to 100 m) crater in the Taymyr Peninsula — have also been reported.


Related: Mysterious Siberian crater attributed to methane

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August 1 2014

Pigeon paradox reveals quantum cosmic connections


PARTICLES on opposite ends of the universe can link quantum mechanical hands. The phenomenon hints at an entirely new aspect of the quantum reality underlying all matter.

The effect is a sort of inversion of one of the most famous and profound quantum properties, called entanglement. Two entangled particles share a single quantum state: they behave as one and cannot be described individually. Measuring one instantaneously affects the other, no matter how far apart they become, an oddity that prompted Einstein to describe entanglement as "spooky action at a distance".

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August 1 2014

Algorithm predicts US Supreme Court decisions 70% of time


A legal scholar says he and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can predict, with 70 percent accuracy, whether the US Supreme Court will uphold or reverse the lower-court decision before it.

"Using only data available prior to the date of decision, our model correctly identifies 69.7 percent of the Court’s overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes," Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law scholar, wrote on his blog Tuesday.

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August 1 2014

Robot 'learns to keep going with broken leg'


Engineers have taken a step towards having machines that can operate when damaged by developing a robot that can teach itself to walk, even with a broken leg.

Using "intelligent trial and error", their six-legged robot learned how to walk again in less than 2 minutes.

"This new technique will enable more robust, effective, autonomous robots," the engineers behind the robot said.

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August 1 2014

New meaning to refrigerator magnets: Magnets may act as wireless cooling agents


The magnets cluttering the face of your refrigerator may one day be used as cooling agents, according to a new theory. A magnetically driven refrigerator would require no moving parts, unlike conventional iceboxes that pump fluid through a set of pipes to keep things cool.

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August 1 2014

In Two Years, Denmark's Wind Power Will Be Half the Cost of Fossil Fuels


Wind power is officially the cheapest source of energy in Denmark, according to the nation's government—and by 2016, it claims the electricity whipped up by its newest turbines will be half the price of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Denmark's Energy Association (everything about Scandinavia is friendlier, even its DEA) announced the news last week, and it's an achievement worth highlighting. Wind and solar are achieving grid parity with fossil fuels—that is, it's just as cheap—in many places around the world. Even without the tax breaks, declining manufacturing costs and growing scale have rendered wind power just as cheap as natural gas in many states right here in the gas-rich US.

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August 1 2014

UK to allow driverless cars on public roads in January


The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year.

It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time.

In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines.

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August 1 2014

Big Data Reveals How Cities Beckoned the Brainy for 2,000 Years


How do you keep them down on the farm, once they've seen Paris? You don't, suggests a study of 150,000 historical figures that shows cities have long acted as cultural magnets.

The brainy headed away from the hinterlands in the same migratory patterns centuries ago as they do today, finds a Science journal study released on Thursday.

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August 1 2014

Video of tribe's first contact shows both tension and friendly overtures


Today the Brazilian Indian affairs department, FUNAI, posted an 8-minute video (also above) of a complex contact episode between members of an isolated tribe and outsiders, some of whom appear to be Brazilian officials.

The video shows young tribesmen, all male, interacting with what appears to be the Brazilian government contact team and local villagers.


Related: 'Massacre' of Uncontacted Tribe in Peru Revealed in New Reports

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August 1 2014

Naughty Nuns, Flatulent Monks, and Other Surprises of Sacred Medieval Manuscripts


Flipping through an illustrated manuscript from the 13th century, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Jesus loved a good fart joke. That’s because the margins of these handmade devotional books were filled with imagery depicting everything from scatological humor to mythical beasts to sexually explicit satire. Though we may still get a kick out of poop jokes, we aren’t used to seeing them visualized in such lurid detail, and certainly not in holy books.

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August 1 2014

Ice age lion figurine: Ancient fragment of ivory belonging to 40,000 year old animal figurine


Archaeologists have found an ancient fragment of ivory belonging to a 40,000 year old animal figurine. Both pieces were found in the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age. The mammoth ivory figurine depicting a lion was discovered during excavations in 1931. The new fragment makes up one side of the figurine’s head.

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August 1 2014

What Somebody's Mummy Can Teach You About Heart Disease


We think of heart disease as a modern scourge, brought on by our sedentary lifestyles and our affinity for fast food.

But a few years ago, a team of researchers discovered something puzzling — CT scans of Egyptian mummies of hardened, narrow arteries. Further scans of mummies from other ancient civilizations turned up the same thing.

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August 1 2014

Otzi 'the Iceman' had heart disease genes


Otzi the Iceman, a well-preserved mummy discovered in the Alps, may have had a genetic predisposition to heart disease, new research suggests.

The new finding may explain why the man who lived 5,300 years ago, stayed active and certainly didn't smoke or wolf down processed food in front of the TV nevertheless had hardened arteries when he was felled by an arrow and bled to death on an alpine glacier.

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August 1 2014

We are all Neanderthal


Better genome sequencing technology is giving new insight into early humans. In December 2013, scientists unveiled the most complete sequence yet of the Neanderthal genome, using DNA from a woman’s 50,000-year-old toe bone recovered from a cave in southern Siberia. That same cave has yielded a small piece of a finger bone from a Denisovan, from which the Denisovan genome was sequenced. One of the most surprising revelations so far is just how much of their genetic legacy we carry with us, even today. About 20 per cent of the Neanderthal genome lives on in modern people, influencing our health, and risk for disease, in ways scientists are now starting to unravel.

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August 1 2014

Decades-old amber collection offers news views of a lost world


Scientists are searching through an extremely large collection of 20-million-year-old amber unearthed in the Dominican Republic over 50 years ago; the effort is displaying new insights into ancient tropical insects and the world they lived in.

When the collection is fully curated, a task that is estimated to take many years, it will be the largest unbiased Dominican amber collection in the world, researchers report.

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August 1 2014

Did Ancient Aliens Make the 150,000-year-old Pipes Baffling Scientists in China?


Ancient tree roots? Fissures that ancient iron magma flowed into? An alien creation?

The origin of mysterious pipe-like structures found in a remote region of China is shrouded in the tubes’ 150,000-year history. That is one thing that scientists have agreed on—that these cylinders, which fill three caves in a pyramid in Qinghai Province pre-date known human technological advances by a good 120,000 years.

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July 31 2014

Early Earth could have been habitable


Isolated pockets of liquid water may have existed on the infant Earth even while it was being smashed by giant asteroids that boiled the oceans and created vast seas of magma, a new study suggests.

This means there could have been habitable regions on the Earth during its violent early period, say the authors in today's issue of the journal Nature.

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