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August 31 2014

Why the calls of the wild may be more complex than zoologists first thought


From ultrasonic bat chirps to eerie whale songs, the animal kingdom is a noisy place. While some sounds might have meaning – typically something like “I’m a male, aren’t I great?” – no other creatures have a true language except for us. Or do they?

A new study on animal calls has found that the patterns of barks, whistles and clicks from seven different species appear to be more complex than previously thought. The researchers used mathematical tests to see how well the sequences of sounds fit to models ranging in complexity.

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August 31 2014

Dogs glean information from each other's barks


A dog’s bark may sound like nothing but noise, but it encodes important information. In 2005, scientists showed that people can tell whether a dog is lonely, happy, or aggressive just by listening to his bark. Now, the same group has shown that dogs themselves distinguish between the barks of pooches they’re familiar with and the barks of strangers and respond differently to each.

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August 31 2014

Painful memories eased by inhaling xenon gas


It's odourless, colourless, tasteless and mostly non-reactive – but it may help you forget. Xenon gas has been shown to erase fearful memories in mice, raising the possibility that it could be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if the results are replicated in a human trial next year.

The method exploits a neurological process known as "reconsolidation". When memories are recalled, they seem to get re-encoded, almost like a new memory. When this process is taking place, the memories become malleable and can be subtly altered.

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August 31 2014

Why trying to listen makes us freeze in place


To listen to someone carefully, we first stop talking and then stop moving entirely. This strategy helps us hear better because it cuts unwanted sounds generated by our movements.

This interplay between movement and hearing also has a counterpart deep in the brain. Indirect evidence has long suggested that the brain’s motor cortex, which controls movement, somehow influences the auditory cortex, which gives rise to our conscious perception of sound.

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August 31 2014

Use of 'language of deceit' betrays scientific fraud


Diederik Stapel, the infamous "lying Dutchman" who in 2011 admitted to inventing the data in dozens of psychology research papers, unwittingly signalled his deceit through the language he used. As well as inflating the certainty surrounding his results, Stapel included more science-related terms to describe his methods when writing up his fraudulent "findings" than when describing genuine results.

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August 31 2014

Emailing angry? Your keyboard feels your pain


FACEBOOK, email, texting, instant messaging – more of our life than ever is lived through our keyboards. Communicating emotion through type can be hard, though.

That could be about to change. By measuring the way someone is typing – the speed, rhythm and how often they use backspace – and then combining that information with an emotional analysis of the typed text, a computer program has been able to predict how they are feeling with 80 per cent accuracy.

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August 31 2014

Could we soon send emails 'telepathically'? Scientist transmits message into the mind of a colleague


Brain-wave sensing machines have been used to ‘telepathically’ control everything from real-life helicopters to characters in a computer game.

Now the technology has gone a step further by allowing someone in India to send an email to his colleague in France using nothing but the power of his mind.

The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) headsets to record electrical activity from neurons firing in the brain, and convert the words ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’ into binary.

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August 31 2014

Sugar Sweetens Battery Performance


It might seem strange to use an ingredient found in cupcakes and cookies as an energy source, but most living cells break down sugar to produce energy. And, interestingly, the energy density of sugar is significantly higher than that of current lithium-ion batteries.

Recently, my colleagues and I successfully demonstrated the concept of a sugar biobattery that can completely convert the chemical energy in sugar substrates into electricity.

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August 31 2014

Twenty-Two Percent of the World's Power Now Comes from Renewable Sources


Last year saw the biggest worldwide boom in renewable energy yet. Across the globe, wind turbines and solar panels were rolled out and set up at a more rapid clip than ever before.

"In 2013, renewable power capacity expanded at its fastest pace to date," the Paris-based International Energy Agency wrote in its latest market report.


Related: A new renewable energy source? Device captures energy from Earth's infrared emissions to outer space

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August 31 2014

Earth's tectonic plates have doubled their speed


SO MUCH for slowing down as you age. Earth's tectonic plates are moving faster now than at any point in the last 2 billion years, according to the latest study of plate movements. But the result is controversial, since previous work seemed to show the opposite.

If true, the result could be explained by another surprising recent discovery: the presence of more water within Earth's mantle than in all of the oceans combined.

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August 31 2014

Volcanoes In Iceland, Papua New Guinea Keep Residents On Edge


Two volcanoes half a world apart are causing havoc today: Several flights have been diverted around an eruption in Papua New Guinea, and authorities in Iceland briefly put aviation on highest alert (again) owing to a temperamental Mount Bardarbunga, which has been rumbling for the past week.


Related: 'Widespread methane leakage' from ocean floor off US coast

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August 31 2014

Dead stars 'can re-ignite' and explode


Astronomers have shown that dead stars known as white dwarfs can re-ignite and explode as supernovas.

The discovery appears to solve a mystery surrounding the nature of a particular category of stellar explosions known as Type Ia supernovas.

Theorists suspected that white dwarfs could explode due to a disruptive interaction with a companion star, but lacked definitive evidence until now.

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August 30 2014

What Lit up the Universe? Astronomers May be on the Brink of an Answer


Most scientists can see, hear, smell, touch or even taste their research. But astronomers can only study light — photons traveling billions of light-years across the cosmos before getting scooped up by an array of radio dishes or a single parabolic mirror orbiting the Earth.

Luckily the universe is overflowing with photons across a spectrum of energies and wavelengths. But astronomers don’t fully understand where most of the light, especially in the early universe, originates.

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August 30 2014

Row reignites over distance of Pleiades star cluster


The most precise measurement yet of the distance to the Pleiades star cluster is reviving a dispute that has split the astronomy community largely down a trans-Atlantic divide for the past 17 years.

The latest result, from a US team using a worldwide network of radio telescopes, is in good agreement with more than a dozen previous measurements to the Pleiades, made using multiple techniques. But it stands in sharp contrast to a figure from the Hipparcos satellite of the European Space Agency.

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August 30 2014

'Space City' Houston UFOs Look For An Explanation


When UFOs fly over a metropolitan area known as "Space City," it's safe to assume explanations for the sightings also will fly.

During an Aug. 11 rain storm in Houston, some odd lights were photographed above the city that's home to the Johnson Space Center, headquarters of NASA's Mission Control. Groups of aerial lights were seen maneuvering and changing their configurations in the sky, while others were photographed in a distinct circular pattern.

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August 30 2014

Police Verify UFO Sighting in Pennsylvania, Another Reported


A UFO that changed colors was spotted in Lower Paxton Township Pennsylvania on August 25 and three police officers called out by the woman who first spotted it could not identify it. What was it?

Police in Lower Paxton Township responded to a call by local resident Stephanie Wilkerson that she had been watching an apparent UFO for twenty minutes and wanted someone official to see it as well.

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August 30 2014

Ecuador heralds digital currency plans


Ecuador is planning to create what it calls the world's first digital currency issued by a central bank, which some analysts believe could be a first step toward abandoning the country's existing currency, the U.S. dollar.

The electronic money, which Central Bank officials say they expect will start circulating in December, does not have a name and officials would not disclose technical details.


Related: Giant Chinese Bitcoin Mines Are the Foundation of the Next Economy

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