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June 9 2014

The Human Face Evolved from a Violent Past, Say Researchers


Scientists have reported a study that suggests that all human males can trace their roots to an ancestor with violent tendencies -- a hominin who was not a gentle, 'noble savage' whose descendents were later corrupted or changed by the onset of society, as depicted or suggested by many theorists.


Related: Did violence shape our faces?

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June 9 2014

New evidence links air pollution to autism, schizophrenia


A new study describes how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism and schizophrenia. The mice performed poorly in tests of short-term memory, learning ability, and impulsivity.

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June 9 2014

Mercury Levels Off the Chart in Some Shark Meat


A sharp dietary warning emerged from the Sharks International Conference taking place in Durban, South Africa this week, iol Scitech reported. According to a presenter at the gathering, eating shark meat could kill you.

Southern Cross University researcher Jann Gilbert said that in three species of shark mercury and arsenic levels were found to be well above those considered safe by Australia and New Zealand's Food Standards Authority.

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June 9 2014

The dolphin who loved me


In the 1960s, Margaret Lovatt was part of a Nasa-funded project to communicate with dolphins. Soon she was living with 'Peter' 24 hours a day in a converted house. Christopher Riley reports on an experiment that went tragically wrong.


Related YouTube video: Teaching a dolphin to speak English - The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins: Preview - BBC Four

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June 9 2014

Computer becomes first to pass Turing Test in artificial intelligence milestone


A programme that convinced humans that it was a 13-year-old boy has become the first computer ever to pass the Turing Test. The test — which requires that computers are indistinguishable from humans — is considered a landmark in the development of artificial intelligence, but academics have warned that the technology could be used for cybercrime.

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June 9 2014

Chatty Robot Makes Friends Fast


A chatty humanoid robot whose makers claim it can understand people's emotions made its first friends Friday as it struck up conversations with shoppers in Tokyo.

And the device -- named Pepper by its designers -- proved an effective marketing tool for mobile carrier SoftBank, delighting managers who put it to work collecting customer opinions.

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June 9 2014

Engineers control 'robotic sperm' with magnets


Engineers have built a sperm-like robot that they can control with magnets.

The simple design has a metal-coated head and a flexible body about six times longer than a human sperm.

Using a magnetic field no stronger than a fridge magnet, the team made the robot "swim" forward and steered it towards a fixed point.

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June 9 2014

Are squiggly lines the future of password security?


As more people use smart phones or tablets to pay bills, make purchases, store personal information and even control access to their houses, the need for robust password security has become more critical than ever.

A new Rutgers University study shows that free-form gestures – sweeping fingers in shapes across the screen of a smart phone or tablet – can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps.

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June 9 2014

Volcano Coughs Up New Fuel Cell Catalyst


This one begins like a chapter from Jules Verne’s novel The Mysterious Island and ends up with a new fuel cell catalyst that could lead to cost-competitive fuel cell vehicles. The new catalyst is based on an enzyme called H2ase S–77, which was discovered on Kyushu Island in Japan at an active volcano called Mt. Aso, by a researcher from Kyushu University.

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June 9 2014

Another Glimpse of 'New Physics' at the LHC?


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is currently on the long road to re-start, but for physicists pouring over the huge wealth of data stored from countless trillions of particle collisions already carried out by the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the work never paused.

And this week, at the LHC Physics meeting in New York City, researchers who are currently analyzing data from one of the LHC’s seven detectors announced an intriguing finding. As reported by Symmetry Magazine, the finding — which isn’t quite a discovery (yet) — focuses on the production of electrons, muons and taus in the post-collision soup of particles that are produced inside the LHCb detector.

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June 9 2014

What's going on with the sun? Scientists puzzled by oddities in sunspot cycle


The sun has been acting strangely of late, prompting some solar physicists to suggest that once current sunspot activity peaked, which appeared to happen last fall, it could tank and remain that way for several decades.

A prolonged period with few or no spots would have a slight, temporary cooling effect on Earth's climate and a general calming effect on space weather, which would be good news for astronauts and satellites.

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June 9 2014

Salads in space? Astronauts try growing own veggies


As salad ingredients go, romaine lettuce ranks somewhere between limp carrots and dried radishes on the excitement scale.

But add a dash of outer space, and suddenly that frilly leaf is looking downright exotic, especially to astronauts used to food wrapped in plastic.

Gardening in space could become a reality soon if NASA is able to grow its first crop of romaine lettuce on the International Space Station.

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June 9 2014

Alien Planet Identities May Be Unmasked by Examining Parent Stars


The kinds of alien planets that orbit distant stars may be revealed by taking a close look at the elements that make up those parent stars, researchers say.

Astronomers have so far confirmed the existence of more than 1,000 planets beyond our solar system with the aid of NASA's Kepler spacecraft and other telescopes. They are investigating thousands more candidate worlds to see if they, too, are exoplanets, or extrasolar planets.

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June 9 2014

Milky Way may bear 100 million life-giving planets


There are some 100 million other places in the Milky Way galaxy that could support complex life, report a group of university astronomers in the journal Challenges. They have developed a new computation method to examine data from planets orbiting other stars in the universe.

Their study provides the first quantitative estimate of the number of worlds in our galaxy that could harbor life above the microbial level.

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June 9 2014

Venus Has Space Weather Explosions That Are Larger Than the Planet


A common space weather phenomenon on the outskirts of the magnetosphere, the magnetic bubble that surrounds the earth (and protects the surface of the planet from solar radiation) are "hot flow anomalies." These are, in effect, enormous explosions. NASA researchers recently discovered that the same phenomenon occurs on Venus, except that these giant explosions can be larger than the entire planet—and they can happen several times a day.

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June 9 2014

Asteroid HQ124 — dubbed ‘the Beast’ — expected to approach Earth this weekend


Last year, a massive asteroid that had gone undetected exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in a huge fireball and another, much bigger asteroid spotted in April is expected to buzz past Earth this weekend.

While the incoming HQ124 asteroid, aka “the Beast,” is not expected to make contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, professional skywatchers will be keeping close tabs on the massive space rock nonetheless.

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June 8 2014

Lake on Saturn’s Largest Moon May Have Waves


Saturn's moon Titan shares many of Earth's features, including clouds, rain and lakes. And now scientists know the two are similar in another way: they both have waves. Cameras on NASA's spacecraft Cassini recently saw what appear to be waves on one of Titan's largest methane lakes—a signal scientists have long searched for but never found.


Related: A Submarine for Saturn's Moon Titan? NASA Backs Way-Out Ideas

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