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April 26 2015

Nasa’s search for aliens steps up: agency puts together crack coalition to search for E.T. life


Nasa is bringing together scientists from a range of different fields to try and search for life on other planets.

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or NExSS, will bring together earth scientists, who will look to further understand how planets can support life.


Alt: NASA's NExSS Coalition to Lead Search for Life on Distant Worlds

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April 26 2015

The First Alien Planet Detected in Visible Light


A new technique has been developed that does not depend on finding a planetary transit, so it can potentially be used to study many more exoplanets. It allows the planetary spectrum to be directly detected in visible light, which means that different characteristics of the planet that are inaccessible to other techniques can be inferred. The challenge is similar to trying to study the faint glimmer reflected off a tiny insect flying around a distant and brilliant light.

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April 26 2015

Jaws meets kangaroo? Rare, cute pocket shark found


Think Jaws meets a kangaroo, with maybe a touch of cute kitten, and you've got the aptly named pocket shark — the newest and rarest species found off the U.S. coast.

Surprised scientists found a tiny, young version of the extraordinarily rare shark that was fished out of the deep Gulf of Mexico in 2010 with lots of other creatures in a government research trip.

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April 26 2015

Backyard birds enhance life in urban neighborhoods


How aware are you of the birds that live in your neighborhood? Do you know how many different species there are? Do enjoy your local birds, or find them annoying? A new paper provides a fascinating look at the relationship between people and nature in a city setting.


Related: Make your home a home for the birds
Related: Rewilding Farm Creates Refuge for England’s Rare Turtledoves

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April 26 2015

Mathematicians dispute claims that the 'golden ratio' is a natural blueprint for beauty


Revered as the formula that defines beauty, the golden ratio is a mathematically derived principle embodied in objects as diverse as a spiralled seashell and the Parthenon.

But the widespread belief that the golden ratio is the natural blueprint for beauty is pseudo-scientific “hocus-pocus” and a “myth that refuses to go away”, according to leading mathematicians.

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April 26 2015

Is LSD about to return to polite society?


Imagine a family of drugs that could treat addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress: sicknesses of the soul for which modern medicine, in all its surgical wizardry, has few cures. Substances that were a fillip to creativity and could provide those who took them with an experience comparable to seeing God or witnessing the birth of a child. Say these wonder chemicals were found: why would a society make them illegal?

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April 26 2015

Distraction Is Good for Learning, Sometimes


Distraction can be a good thing for learning under the right circumstances—namely when you will be tested or have to perform under similarly distracting contexts.

Psychologists know that the things we learn in one context might not be remembered in another. Famously, investigators once showed that words learned while scuba diving are easier to recall underwater than on dry land. Now Brown University psychologists suggest something similar happens with distraction.

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April 26 2015

More than a third of infants are using smartphones, tablets, study says


Have you ever been befuddled by a feature of your iPhone, only to have your 6-year-old show you how it works? A new study helps explain how this happens.

Most children have been using smartphones and digital tablets practically since birth -- literally. Fully 36% of parents who answered a recent survey said their children had “touched or scrolled a screen” before they had celebrated their first birthday, and an additional 33% of parents said their kids had done so while they were 1 year old. Only 2% of the parents surveyed said they had waited until their kids were 4 to introduce them to the wonders of the touchscreen.

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April 26 2015

See-Through Classrooms Could Combat Nearsightedness


In China, some students are probably finding it a lot more difficult to pay attention: Their classroom has essentially been transformed into a giant cube of windows.

The decision to bathe students in sunlight at one particular school in China isn’t some new-age teaching methodology, though. It’s an experimental attempt to preserve children’s’ vision.

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April 26 2015

Selling visas could help eradicate 'booming' human smuggling trade


Researchers say that using a new visa-selling economic model could help governments eradicate human smuggling.

The policy, designed by economists at City University London and the Toulouse School of Economics, involves pricing criminals out of the market while raising funds for improving traditional border controls.

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April 26 2015

There is no evidence that the death penalty acts as a deterrent


Australia has executed no-one for half a century. Following the abolition of the death penalty by various states, the federal government abolished capital punishment in 1973.

Nevertheless, Australian citizens – like all of those from abolitionist jurisdictions – face the death penalty when they commit serious crimes in countries that retain it. Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are facing execution in Indonesia following their convictions on drug trafficking charges almost ten years ago. On Saturday, they and seven others were given official notice that they will be killed by firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan.

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April 26 2015

Solving Crimes With Pollen, One Grain Of Evidence At A Time


Dallas Mildenhall is one of the world's few forensic pollen experts. He recently identified a rare, mutated pollen grain that helped police crack a murder case in his native New Zealand.

Some murder cases are harder to solve than others. The investigation into the killing of Mellory Manning — a 27-year-old woman who was assaulted and murdered in 2008 while working as a prostitute in Christchurch, New Zealand — confounded police.

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April 26 2015

Ancient Viruses, Once Foes, May Now Serve as Friends


Our genomes are riddled with the detritus of ancient viruses. They infected our hominid ancestors tens of millions of years ago, inserting their genes into the DNA of their hosts.

Today, we carry about 100,000 genetic remnants of this invasion. So-called endogenous retroviruses make up 8 percent of the human genome.

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April 26 2015

Scientists Discover Massive New Magma Chamber Under Yellowstone


There's more to Yellowstone National Park than meets the eye. Much more, as it turns out.

You might already know that a supervolcano dominates the famous park that is situated on land in Wyoming and Montana. A shallow subsurface magma chamber has long been known.

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April 26 2015

Nepal quake 'followed historic pattern'


Nepal's devastating magnitude-7.8 earthquake on Saturday was primed over 80 years ago by its last massive earthquake in 1934, which razed around a quarter of Kathmandu to the ground and killed over 17,000 people.

This latest quake follows the same pattern as a duo of big tremors that occurred over 700 years ago, and results from a domino effect of strain transferring along the fault, geologists say.

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April 26 2015

Signs of climate change and adaptation in the ancient Maya lowlands


A new study pinpoints the devastating effects of climate change on ancient Maya civilization, despite attempts to adapt to it.

Researchers found that markers of historic droughts in Central America match the patterns of disruption to Maya society during centuries of hardship. The new information provides answers to longstanding questions about the role climate change played in Maya cultural collapse between 800 and 950 A.D.

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April 25 2015

Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king's tomb


An archaeologist has discovered liquid mercury at the end of a tunnel beneath a Mexican pyramid, a finding that could suggest the existence of a king’s tomb or a ritual chamber far below one of the most ancient cities of the Americas.

Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez announced on Friday that he had discovered “large quantities” of liquid mercury in a chamber below the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest pyramid of Teotihuacan, the ruined city in central Mexico.

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