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September 9 2014

Your Fingertips Perform Brain-like Calculations


Your brain has a lot to think about, so if there’s a way to outsource a few mental tasks to save bandwidth, it’s going to do it. Now researchers have discovered another such workaround: the neurons in your fingertips perform some computational tasks independently of the brain.

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September 9 2014

New Report: World Leaders Call For Ending Criminalization of Drug Use and Possession


Former Presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland Join With Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, George Shultz, Paul Volcker And Others To Make Bold, New Recommendations for Major Paradigm Shift in Global Drug Policy on the Road to UN Special Session on Drugs in 2016.


Related: Decriminalisation of drugs for personal use under review by Lib Dems

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September 9 2014

Another Massive New Dinosaur Found, This Time in Africa


On the heels of last week’s discovery of one of the world’s largest dinosaurs comes news of a new enormous dinosaur that lived in what is now Africa 100 million years ago.

This new dinosaur, Rukwatitan bisepultus, as well as most other extremely large dinosaurs, are titanosaurs. These were big-bodied, four-legged plant eaters that thrived during the final period of the dinosaur age.

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September 9 2014

'Primordial Soup' Computer Model Tracks The Beginning Of Life At The Atomic Level


In the early 1950s, a chemist named Stanley Miller mixed up a bunch of gases including methane, ammonia and hydrogen. That's kind of stuff that had been on Earth before life began. Miller zapped those gases with electricity, mimicking the lightning that would have also been abundant on an early Earth. After the zap, Miller found the gases transformed into a soupy brown liquid rich with amino acids—the molecules that, when snapped together, make proteins.

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September 9 2014

Forget Mars. Here’s Where We Should Build Our First Off-World Colonies


The collective space vision of all the world’s countries at the moment seems to be Mars, Mars, Mars. The U.S. has two operational rovers on the planet; a NASA probe called MAVEN and an Indian Mars orbiter will both arrive in Mars orbit later this month; and European, Chinese and additional NASA missions are in the works. Meanwhile Mars One is in the process of selecting candidates for the first-ever Martian colony

But is the Red Planet really the best target for a human colony, or should we look somewhere else? Should we pick a world closer to Earth, namely the moon? Or a world with a surface gravity close to Earth’s, namely Venus?

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September 9 2014

What Would Make You Move To A Space Colony?


With it's rising temperatures, declining energy resources, and rapidly filing landfills, the earth sometimes gets a bad rap. Still, it's a pretty hard-to-beat combination of habitable oxygen-levels and replenishing food sources. So, what would make someone leave all that behind?

In response to an article on the things we would need to get a space colony up and running within this century, a discussion began about how those colonies would be used, with some commenters asking, if we do build it, what would actually make us go?.

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September 9 2014

Stephen Hawking: Research on the ‘God particle’ could cause space-time to collapse


In the preface to a new book, Starmus, acclaimed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking writes that the so-called “God particle” could become unstable and cause a “catastrophic vacuum decay” that would lead to the collapse of time and space, The Sunday Times reports.

“The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts,” Hawking writes. “This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light.”.

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September 9 2014

First Ever Real-Time Planet-Like Impact Detected Outside Our Solar System


A group of astronomers led by first author and graduate student Huan Meng from the University of Arizona at Tucson monitored a monster collision between two planetoids or asteroids orbiting a Sun-like star. This is the first and only such real time event detected of such large magnitude until now outside of our Solar System.

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September 9 2014

Weird Comet Is Darker Than Charcoal


A spacecraft chasing a comet in deep space has found that its target is surprisingly dark in color.

Instead of arriving at a bright, reflective, ice-covered heavenly body, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe found that its target comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-G), appears darker than charcoal in some wavelengths of light, according to new data collected by an instrument on the spacecraft. And, so far, scientists working with the Alice instrument on Rosetta have not found any large patches of water-ice on Comet 67P/C-G's surface.

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September 9 2014

What Caused This Crater In Nicaragua?


Reports are quickly spreading of a "meteorite impact" near Managua, Nicaragua. Circumstantial evidence supports the impact theory, but just as equally supports an explosives mishap from the nearby military base. Here's what we know, and what we need to know to tell the difference.


Related: Nicaragua Meteorite Impact Theory May Be Meteor-wrong

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September 8 2014

Meteorite 'caused mysterious boom in Nicaragua'


Nicaragua's government said that a mysterious boom heard in the capital was made by a small meteorite that left a crater in a wooded area near Managua's airport.

Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said on Sunday that a committee formed by the government to study the event determined it was a "relatively small" meteorite that "appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth".


Related: Was this 39ft-wide crater made by 'pitbull' asteroid that buzzed past Earth last night? Explosion in Nicaraguan capital may have been caused by rogue shard

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September 8 2014

Jupiter moon Europa may have tectonic plates similar to Earth: scientists


Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may have active tectonic plates similar to those that shape the Earth, which had long been thought unique in this respect, scientists said Sunday.

They used images captured by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which orbited Jupiter and its moons from 1995 to 2003, to study the criss-cross of ridges and fractures on Europa’s ice shell.

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September 8 2014

Second Possible Proto-Planet Found In System Pretty Close To Earth


Astronomers have found what they believe is a second protoplanet around HD100546, a youngster star that may also host a planet under formation that is the size of Jupiter.

This new find is at least times the size of Jupiter and about the equivalent distance of Saturn to our own Sun, which means the planet would not be habitable as far as we can tell. It was spotted using a way of measuring carbon monoxide emission that seems to change its velocity and position in the same way that a planet would be expected to be orbiting the star.

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September 8 2014

Half Of All Solar Systems With Planets Are Binaries


It now appears that Tatooine-like planets are far more common than previously thought. A new analysis of 1,000 known exoplanets shows that planets with two suns are an exceedingly frequent occurrence. But what does this say to the prevalence of life in our galaxy?

Binary star systems may account for as many as 50% of all stellar systems. But what's less known is the rate at which such systems can produce exoplanets.

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September 8 2014

Google Launches Effort to Build Its Own Quantum Computer


Google is about to begin designing and building hardware for a quantum computer, a type of machine that can exploit quantum physics to solve problems that would take a conventional computer millions of years.

Since 2009, Google has been working with controversial startup D-Wave Systems, which claims to make “the first commercial quantum computer.” And last year Google purchased one of D-Wave’s machines. But independent tests published earlier this year found no evidence that D-Wave’s computer uses quantum physics to solve problems more efficiently than a conventional machine.

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September 8 2014

Buddhist singing bowls inspire new tandem solar cell design


The shape of a centuries-old Buddhist singing bowl has inspired a Canberra scientist to re-think the way that solar cells are designed to maximize their efficiency.

Dr Niraj Lal, of the Australian National University, found during his PhD at the University of Cambridge, that small nano-sized versions of Buddhist singing bowls resonate with light in the same way as they do with sound, and he's applied this shape to solar cells to increase their ability to capture more light and convert it into electricity.

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September 8 2014

Research Shows Early Neanderthal Extinction on Iberian Peninsula


Some scientists have suggested that the Iberian Peninsula might have been one of the last refuge zones of the Neanderthals before their extinction. This is because certain sites in this region of Europe have, according to the researchers, revealed evidence of continued Neanderthal habitation less than 40,000 years ago.

Recent findings of a team of scientists at a cave in Spain, however, have shed some additional light on the long-debated topic.

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