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February 6 2015

Study suggests similarity between how pigeons learn the equivalent of words and the way children do


The more scientists study pigeons, the more they learn how their brains—no bigger than the tip of an index finger—operate in ways not so different from our own.

In a new study from the University of Iowa, researchers found that pigeons can categorize and name both natural and manmade objects—and not just a few objects. These birds categorized 128 photographs into 16 categories, and they did so simultaneously.

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February 6 2015

Promising Alternative Could End Animal Testing Forever


Animal testing may soon be a thing of the past. A new "multi-organ chip" could replace the need for animal testing, an industry that causes 100 million animals to suffer every year. The chip simulates a kind of "mini organ," mimicking metabolic processes in the human body.

Last year, the technology was awarded an animal safety research prize. Now, the Fraunhofer research institute has released details about exactly how it works.

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February 6 2015

C-Fu: The Tofu Made Of 100 Percent Mealworm Protein


We haven't tasted it yet, but we love it already. A team of graduate students at Cornell University created a tofu-like product made entirely with protein taken from mealworms, the Cornell Daily Sun reports. The product is called 'c-fu,' which combines the Chinese word for curd—"to-fu" in Chinese means "bean curd"—with the letter "C" because the original c-fu was made with cricket proteins.


Alt: Environmentally-friendly 'C-fu' made from mealworms could help feed the world

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February 6 2015

Australian study says fences could halt cane toad menace


Special fences built around dams in arid parts of Australia could help eradicate the menace of cane toads, according to new research.

The toads, regarded as poisonous pests, are drawn to the dams by the need for water and die in large numbers if fences hold them back, scientists said.


Related: Frogs use their eyes to push food down while swallowing.

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February 6 2015

Rise of the robots: how long do we have until they take our jobs?


They have mastered the art of poker, helped write a cookbook and can cope with a basic conversation. The decision by a Japanese bank to staff their frontdesk with a bevy of robots is just the latest in a series of advances and predictions that at times appear to suggest we will all be replaced, professionally and socially, by automatons.

Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, has estimated that robots will reach human levels of intelligence by 2029, purportedly leaving us about 14 years to reign supreme. So, how far are we along this trajectory?.

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February 6 2015

World's First Robot-Staffed Hotel to Open in Japan


What if you could check into a hotel, have your luggage carried to your room and order a coffee — all with help from a team of robots?

A new hotel at a theme park in Nagasaki, Japan, hopes to make that dream a reality. The Henn-na Hotel (whose name means "strange hotel") will be partially staffed by androids that work as reception attendants, robot waiters, cleaning staff and a cloakroom attendant, The Telegraph reported.

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February 6 2015

Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium


From shipping containers to skyscrapers to turbines, good old steel is still the workhorse of our modern world. Now, scientists are discovering new secrets to make the material better, lighter, and stronger.

Today a team of material scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea announced what they're calling one of the biggest steel breakthroughs of the last few decades: an altogether new type of flexible, ultra-strong, lightweight steel.

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February 6 2015

Floating wind turbines bring electricity where it's needed


It's a balloon that lifts a wind turbine. That's the easiest way to describe the technology being developed by Altaeros Energies, led by Ben Glass, inventor and CEO of the young company. Glass has reimagined the possibilities of balloon and airship technology to lift a wind turbine.

Most wind turbine manufacturers are competing to build taller turbines to harness more powerful winds above 500 feet, or 150 meters. Altaeros is going much higher with their novel Buoyant Airborne Turbine—the BAT. The Altaeros BAT can reach 2,000 feet, or 600 meters.

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February 6 2015

Earth's orbit affects the stability of Antarctica's Eastern ice cap


An international research team led by the High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC in its Spanish acronym) and with the participation of the University of Granada, has found that there is a direct relation between the changes in the earth's orbit and the stability of the Eastern ice cap of Antarctica, more specifically, on the continental fringe of Wilkes Land (East Antarctica).


Related: Ice ages boost production of new ocean crust

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February 6 2015

The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart


Revolutions in science often come from the study of seemingly unresolvable paradoxes. An intense focus on these paradoxes, and their eventual resolution, is a process that has leads to many important breakthroughs.

So an interesting exercise is to list the paradoxes associated with current ideas in science. It’s just possible that these paradoxes will lead to the next generation of ideas about the universe.


Related: Gravitational waves discovery now officially dead
Related: Researchers describe the wavefunction of Schroedinger's cat

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February 6 2015

Living With a Star


It is a fact rarely appreciated by the general public that to professional astronomers, the Sun is a pretty boring star. Which in fact is great news for the rest of us.

Even a slight change in this precariously controlled violence can have drastic consequences on Earth. And so astronomers have been keeping careful watch on the sun in recent years as the number of sunspots blotting its surface approached an 11-year peak in 2014, ushering in what is often a season of dangerous storms on the sun.


Related: Fractals seen in throbs of pulsating golden stars

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February 6 2015

Scientists predict Earth-like planets around most stars


Planetary scientists have calculated that there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy which might support life, by applying a 200 year old idea to the thousands of exo-planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope.

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February 5 2015

Nasa plan to send a robot to Europa, Jupiter’s moon, to see if it could have life under its crust


Nasa hopes to send a robot to one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, by the mid-2020s.

The agency has laid out new plans for the mission, which it calls the Europa Clipper, and has asked US authorities for an extra $30 million (£20 million) to fund the project. It has already been allocated $100 million by Congress.

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February 5 2015

Life Might Thrive a Dozen Miles Beneath Earth’s Surface


Life teems all over our planet’s exterior and even down into the lightless oceanic depths. But just how far underground might life be able to hack it?

New research offers evidence of bacteria living as deep as 12 miles underground — quite possibly the deepest life has ever glimpsed. Learning biology’s terrestrial limits, though important in its own right, is critical to understanding life’s rise on other planets with far less forgiving climates and surface conditions than the Earth’s.

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February 5 2015

Sea Slug has Taken Genes from the Algae it Eats, Allowing it to Photosynthesize Like a Plant


How a brilliant-green sea slug manages to live for months at a time “feeding” on sunlight, like a plant, is clarified in a recent study published in The Biological Bulletin.

The authors present the first direct evidence that the emerald green sea slug’s chromosomes have some genes that come from the algae it eats.

These genes help sustain photosynthetic processes inside the slug that provide it with all the food it needs.

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February 5 2015

Even cockroaches have personalities


Filthy, smelly, repulsive. There are a lot of ways to describe cockroaches, but “full of personality” usually isn’t one of them. Yet a team of scientists has not only found evidence that the scuttling insects have personalities, but also discovered that when cockroaches get together, they create a group personality. The group personalities of cockroaches vary, too.


Alt: Study shows cockroaches have individual personalities that impact group dynamics

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February 5 2015

Tropical Wasp Guards Nest Using Facial Recognition


If you're a member of a wasp species in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, you'd better hope your colony-mates can recognize you on sight, or you risk being punched in the mouth.

That's what scientists from Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) found when they took a look at how the wasp species Liostenogaster flavolineata weighs facial recognition vs. odor cues when trying to tell friend from foe.

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