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September 29 2014

Why did Pirates Fly the Jolly Roger?


Piracy has likely long been a feature of the open seas, following the earliest trade routes of the Aegean and Mediterranean. Cilicians were active in the Mediterranean and tolerated by the Roman Empire for the slaves they provided, and were only reigned in when they gained such a presence as to become a threat to the Empire’s grain supply in 67 BCE. The Senate approved “a comprehensive and systematic strategy and an astutely humane policy to the vanquished” to eliminate the Cilicians within a matter of months (1). Despite this historical legacy, the familiar skull and crossbones that many of us associate with piracy is a recent development, emerging in the late 17th-century with the rise of the pirates of the Caribbean.

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September 29 2014

Kew Gardens opens drugs festival with chance to try 'mind-altering' plants


Kew Gardens are giving visitors the opportunity to sample mind-altering plants as part of a new season focusing on intoxication and drugs.

The Plant Connoissuers’ Club, a workshop which will be run by what Kew Garden calls architectural foodsmiths Bombas & Parr, will give visitors the “opportunity to try an unusual plant”. The workshops will run from September 20 to October 13.

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September 29 2014

Mysterious New Poison Dart Frog Found; Is Size of Fingernail


A new species of poison dart frog so teeny it can fit on a fingernail has been discovered in a rain forest in Panama, a new study says.

Measuring just 12.7 millimeters in length, the newly described Andinobates geminisae remains something of a mystery, according to the study team. For one, the mini-amphibian “looks nothing like” its closest genetic relatives in the region.

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September 29 2014

'Extinct' cat-sized chinchilla found alive in shadows of Machu Picchu


Below one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a living, cat-sized mammal that until now was only known from fossils.

The Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat (Cuscomys oblativa) was first described from two enigmatic skulls discovered in Incan pottery sculpted 400 years ago.

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September 29 2014

Building an Ark for the Anthropocene


WE are barreling into the Anthropocene, the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet. A recent study published in the journal Science concluded that the world’s species are disappearing as much as 1,000 times faster than the rate at which species naturally go extinct. It’s a one-two punch — on top of the ecosystems we’ve broken, extreme weather from a changing climate causes even more damage. By 2100, researchers say, one-third to one-half of all Earth’s species could be wiped out.

As a result, efforts to protect species are ramping up as governments, scientists and nonprofit organizations try to build a modern version of Noah’s Ark.

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September 29 2014

High-Tech Weapons of the Ancients


If you’re someone who is interested in the theory that thousands of years ago certain factions of the human race possessed technologies that exceeded those of today, then you may want to invest in a brand new book. Its title is The Ark Of The Covenant And Other Secret Weapons Of The Ancients.

As the title of the book suggests, the bulk of the material is focused upon the Ark of the Covenant – which is, without doubt, one of the most mysterious, and mystifying “things” referred to in the pages of the bible

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September 29 2014

Brain wave may be used to detect what people have seen, recognize


Brain activity can be used to tell whether someone recognizes details they encountered in normal, daily life, which may have implications for criminal investigations and use in courtrooms, new research shows. The findings suggest that a particular brain wave, known as P300, could serve as a marker that identifies places, objects, or other details that a person has seen and recognizes from everyday life.

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September 29 2014

Muscle to Mind


A muscle gene activated by physical exercise protects the brains of mice from stress-induced depression, according to results published today (September 25) in Cell. Triggering this gene, PGC-1, blocks the transport of a metabolite that, within the brain, may cause inflammation that leads to depression. Understanding the biochemical reason why exercise improves symptoms in some patients with depression “opens up a very interesting therapeutic future”.

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September 29 2014

'Cloaking' device uses ordinary lenses to hide objects across range of angles


Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways—some simple and some involving new technologies—to hide objects from view. The latest effort, developed at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but it uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration.

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September 29 2014

‘I was blind… now I have bionic eyes’


Fran Fulton is 66, and she’s been fully blind for about 10 years. A few weeks ago, all that changed.

Fulton suffers from retinitis pigmentosa – a degenerative eye disease that slowly causes light-sensitive cells in the retina to die off. Over the course of several years she lost her sight, and for the past 10 years she hasn’t been able to see anything at all.

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September 29 2014

3,600 crystals in wearable ‘skin’ monitor health 24/7


A new wearable medical device that uses up to 3,600 liquid crystals can quickly let you know if you’re having heart trouble—or if it’s simply time to slather on some moisturizer.

The small device, approximately five centimeters square, can be placed directly on the skin for around-the-clock health monitoring. The wireless technology uses thousands of tiny liquid crystals on a flexible substrate to sense heat. When the device turns color, the wearer knows something is awry.

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September 29 2014

Military's Tiny Implant Could Give People Self-Healing Powers


If a tiny device could be implanted in your body to give you self-healing powers, would you want one?

That question is on many minds now that the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced that just such a device is in the works: an electronic implant, injected via a needle, that would monitor the health of internal organs and help the body heal itself when illness or injury strikes.

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September 29 2014

Sunflower-Shaped Dish Makes Power, Fresh Water


Generating electricity from sunlight is nothing new. But now IBM in partnership with Airlight Energy has found a way to tackle two problems at once. They’ve developed 30-foot sunflower-shaped solar concentrators that can generate electricity while at the same time desalinate water to make it drinkable. The double-duty utility of the technology could work best in hot climates where fresh water is scare.

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September 29 2014

Turning the Moon into a cosmic ray detector


Scientists are to turn the Moon into a giant particle detector to help understand the origin of Ultra-High-Energy (UHE) cosmic rays -- the most energetic particles in the Universe. The origin of UHE cosmic rays is one of the great mysteries in astrophysics. Nobody knows where these extremely rare cosmic rays come from or how they get their enormous energies. Physicists detect them on Earth at a rate of less than one particle per square kilometer per century.

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September 28 2014

Complex organic molecule found in interstellar space


Scientists have found the beginnings of life-bearing chemistry at the centre of the galaxy.

Iso-propyl cyanide has been detected in a star-forming cloud 27,000 light-years from Earth.

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September 28 2014

5000-Year-Old Water Pipeline Discovered in Western Iran


A 5000-year-old water system has been unearthed during the second season of a rescue excavation project at the Farash ancient historical site at the Seimareh Dam reservoir area in western Iran.

This system, which comprises a small pool and an earthenware pipeline, was discovered on the eastern shore of the reservoir of the dam on the border between Ilam Province and Lorestan Province.

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September 28 2014

Islamic State advance halts archaeological research in Iraqi Kurdistan


As air strikes begin, archaeologists are turning to safer countries of Turkmenistan and Georgia

Advances by Islamic State (IS) forces have threatened one of the last safe regions of Mesopotamia still open to archaeologists by driving up the risks of working in Iraqi Kurdistan, it is feared. This month, a team of Italian archaeologists left their excavation site in Irbil, heading overland to Turkey.

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