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June 4 2014

Scientists demonstrate rare chemical phenomenon that could be harnessed to harvest solar energy


A team of international scientists led by Professor Jagadese J Vittal of the Department of Chemistry at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Faculty of Science has successfully unraveled the chemical reaction responsible for propelling microscopic crystals to leap distances up to hundreds of times their own size when they are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.

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June 4 2014

Microbes engineered for direct conversion of biomass to fuel


The promise of affordable transportation fuels from biomass -- a sustainable, carbon neutral route to American energy independence -- has been left perpetually on hold by the economics of the conversion process. Researchers have overcome this hurdle allowing the direct conversion of switchgrass to fuel.

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June 4 2014

What’s Up With That: The Bizarre Liquid That Sometimes Acts Like a Solid


When I was a kid, my mother would sometimes give my younger brothers and me a large tub of oobleck, telling us to go play outside and make a mess.

Oobleck is a milky-white, shiny substance known as a non-Newtonian fluid. It flows like thick paint when you pour it, but mash your hand onto its surface and it forms a hard skin. Squeeze some in your palm and it will form a tough glob.

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June 4 2014

Alexander Shulgin dead: ‘Godfather of ecstasy’ and pioneering psychedelic pharmacologist dies at 88


Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the pioneering pharmacologist who introduced MDMA to psychologists in the 1970s, has died aged 88 after a battle with liver cancer.

Shulgin was famed for having synthesized and tested over 200 psychedelic drugs.

He earned the title, the “Godfather of ecstasy”, after developing a new synthesis method for MDMA – the purest available form of ecstasy – in 1976.

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June 4 2014

Silk Road may have prevented drug violence, study says


Silk Road, the now-shuttered underground website where people could buy and sell illegal goods, was often referred to as the "eBay for drugs," implying that end users were the ones buying the drugs in small amounts.

But Silk Road also facilitated dealer-to-dealer transactions, according to an unpublished but thorough study by two researchers at the University of Manchester and University of Lausanne. The volume of these dealer-level sales may have been large enough to reduce drug violence on the street and raise the quality of products.

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June 4 2014

Electrical cables that store energy? New nanotech may provide power storage in cables, clothes


Imagine being able to carry all the juice you needed to power your MP3 player, smartphone and electric car in the fabric of your jacket?

Sounds like science fiction, but it may become a reality thanks to breakthrough technology developed at a University of Central Florida research lab.

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June 4 2014

Maybe Dogs Don’t Want to be Walked by a Drone


I like playing the game, “What’s going to make people mad?”

Dogs wearing pantyhose = mass hysteria! A dog being walked by a drone = not cool… but hmm… kinda cool?

Now that the robots have taken over our cars and our gameshows, they’re also moving in on our dogs.

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June 4 2014

Dog People vs. Cat People: Who's More Outgoing? More Intelligent?


"Dog people" and "cat people" really do have different personalities, according to a new study.

People who said they were dog lovers in the study tended to be more lively — meaning they were more energetic and outgoing — and also tended to follow rules closely. Cat lovers, on the other hand, were more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than dog lovers. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be expedient rather than follow the rules.

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June 4 2014

Speaking 2 languages benefits the aging brain


New research reveals that bilingualism has a positive effect on cognition later in life. Findings published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, show that individuals who speak two or more languages, even those who acquired the second language in adulthood, may slow down cognitive decline from aging.

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June 4 2014

Study links evening blue light exposure to increased hunger


A new study suggests that blue-enriched light exposure immediately before and during the evening meal may increase hunger and alter metabolism.

Results show that blue-enriched light exposure, compared with dim light exposure, was associated with an increase in hunger that began 15 minutes after light onset and was still present almost two hours after the meal. Blue light exposure also decreased sleepiness and resulted in higher measures of insulin resistance.

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June 4 2014

Eating Organic Food For One Week Eliminates 90% of Pesticides in Adults


Capay heirloom tomatoes at Slow Food NationThe organic food lobby should be all over this study. Who wants pesticides in their bodies after all? From MedicalXpress:

Eating an organic diet for a week can cause pesticide levels to drop by almost 90% in adults, research from RMIT University has found.

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June 3 2014

How to erase a memory –- and restore it: Researchers reactivate memories in rats


Researchers have erased and reactivated memories in rats, profoundly altering the animals’ reaction to past events. The study is the first to show the ability to selectively remove a memory and predictably reactivate it by stimulating nerves in the brain at frequencies that are known to weaken and strengthen the connections between nerve cells, called synapses.


Related: Flashes of light show how memories are made

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June 3 2014

Humans evolved to run marathons


For our size, we humans have the biggest brains in the animal kingdom, but physically we appear pretty mediocre.

Surprisingly, it turns out that your average fit human can outrun a deer. In fact, a theory claims that we humans evolved the ability to be good endurance runners, so we could chase animals for hours, run them to a standstill, and kill them. The theory continues that their high-density protein and energy helped our brains evolve bigger and bigger.

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June 3 2014

British feet get two sizes bigger in 40 years


British feet are getting longer and wider, experts have said. During the past four decades, the average British foot has increased by two shoe sizes, The College of Podiatry said. In 1970, men’s feet were on average size eight and women had size four feet, but now the average male wears a size 10 and the average female wears a size six, a spokeswoman said.

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June 3 2014

Solving the puzzle of ice age climates


The paleoclimate record for the last ice age — a time 21,000 years ago called the "Last Glacial Maximum" (LGM) — tells of a cold Earth whose northern continents were covered by vast ice sheets. Chemical traces from plankton fossils in deep-sea sediments reveal rearranged ocean water masses, as well as extended sea ice coverage off Antarctica. Air bubbles in ice cores show that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was far below levels seen before the Industrial Revolution.

While ice ages are set into motion by Earth's slow wobbles in its transit around the sun, researchers agree that the solar-energy decrease alone wasn't enough to cause this glacial state. Paleoclimatologists have been trying to explain the actual mechanism behind these changes for 200 years.

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June 3 2014

Could tree rings skip a beat? Astronomical event tests tree ring dating


Last year, we wrote about a real climate science debate taking place between researchers who look at tree ring records of past climate. Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, well-known for his work on the “hockey stick” climate reconstructions, published a paper arguing that some trees may have failed to grow for a year following major volcanic eruptions. “Skipping” a ring could shift the whole record from that tree by a year, introducing subtle errors into the compilations that are used to reconstruct past climate.

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June 3 2014

Cracking the code for a perfect coffee


Coffee lovers have a new way to ensure they are getting the perfect brew - by listening to it roast.

New research by coffee aficionado and underwater acoustics expert Associate Professor Preston Wilson from the University of Texas, Austin has shown that the cracking sounds emitted during the bean roasting process could provide the foundations of an automated roast monitoring technique.

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