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May 11 2015

City living in Roman Britain meant longer lives but worse teeth


Rural living today may conjure up instant images of health and wholesomeness. But it wasn't always that way – new evidence from hundreds of rural and urban skeletons buried during the Roman occupation of southern England suggests that at that time, town-dwellers had the last laugh.

"The assumption is always that if you're living in the countryside it's healthier," says Rebecca Redfern of the Museum of London, who headed the investigation. "But we found that urban dwellers were more likely to reach old age than their rural counterparts.".

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May 11 2015

Medieval Death Sculptures Were Least Flattering Selfies Ever


Paying an artist to sculpt a dead, emaciated, and nearly naked version of yourself sounds pretty bizarre; but that’s only because it’s out of fashion. According to Christina Welch, some wealthy individuals and families in the Late Middle Ages paid premium prices for carved cadaver selfies.

Sometimes people commissioned death sculptures of themselves while they were still alive; sometimes families has them made, either before or after a loved one's death.

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May 10 2015

Archaeologists in India Discover Ancient Hero Stones that Retell Epic Battles and Honorable Deaths


Intricately carved ancient Hero Stones can be found across India. These decorated stone markers serve as monuments to honorable deaths, commemorating fallen heroes and ferocious warriors who sacrificed themselves in order to protect lives and land. Archaeologists in Andhra Pradesh have found two Hero Stones dating to the ninth and tenth century A.D. which are still used in local worship during festivals.

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May 10 2015

Traces of flowers placed on a Palaeolithic tomb are found


The burial of the so-called Red Lady, dating back to the Upper Palaeolithic, was discovered in El Mirón cave (Cantabria) in 2010. The Journal of Archaeological Science has devoted a special edition to all the studies conducted at this unique burial site, because there are hardly any Palaeolithic tombs like this one which is intact and which has not been contaminated.


Alt: The 'Red Lady of El Mirón' was covered in FLOWERS: Scientists find 16,000-year-old fossilised pollen in mystery tomb

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May 10 2015

Natural rockface or tribal sculpture? Peru and US’s Hunt Oil don’t care


The recent “rediscovery” of the “Harakbut Face” in the Amazon raises fears about gas exploration.

Do you see what that man in the photo above sees in the rock in front of him? That’s what some Harakbut indigenous people call the “Rostro Harakbut” - the “Harakbut Face” - located in a spectacular, super-remote part of the south-east Peruvian Amazon.

Is the “Rostro” natural - whatever that means really - or has it been sculpted, or does that even matter?


Related: Fracking Chemicals Detected in Pennsylvania Drinking Water

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May 10 2015

I won human rights for a chimpanzee


You've been granted a groundbreaking court order that means Stony Brook University in New York has to legally justify keeping two research chimpanzees. What happened?
We filed a petition under a habeas corpus statute, which is usually used to bring a prisoner or detainee before a court to determine if detention is lawful. For the first time, a judge has ordered someone detaining chimpanzees to come to court and argue that it is legal. The arguments will hinge upon whether two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, are entitled to legal personhood rather than being viewed as legal things.

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May 10 2015

To Zoom In, Bats Say “Ahh!”


In the future when touch screens are obsolete and we control our devices by facial gesture, maybe we’ll zoom in and out the same way a bat does it. We’ll open our mouths wide to narrow our field of focus. To see the bigger picture, we’ll purse our lips tightly. But while we’ll only be reading the news or shopping online, bats are operating one of the coolest sensory systems owned by a mammal.

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May 10 2015

Human bat uses echoes and sounds to see the world


WHAT is it like to be a bat? It's a question philosophers interested in consciousness like to ponder. Yet a few people already have something of a bat's world view.

Brian Borowski, a 59-year-old Canadian who was born blind, began teaching himself to echolocate aged 3. He clicks with his tongue or snaps his fingers as he moves about, unconsciously decoding the echoes.

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May 10 2015

Children with autism excel at motion detection test


On a test of visual perception, children with autism perceive moving dots with more clarity than children without the disorder. The results, published in the May 6 Journal of Neuroscience, reveal a way in which children with autism see the world differently.

When asked to determine the overall direction of a mess of dots moving in slightly different directions, children with autism outperformed children without the disorder.

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May 10 2015

Cooperative video game play elicits pro-social behavior, research finds


The word cooperation is self-explanatory -- two or more people working together toward a common goal or benefit.

One Texas Tech University researcher wondered about the implications of teaming up with others in video games and how this differs from playing alone, competitively, or not at all. It seems playing video games cooperatively with others can lead to widespread benefits by making players think helpful behaviors are valuable and commonplace.

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May 10 2015

Familiarity breeds empathy


The more time we spend with people from another nationality the more empathy we have for them, University of Queensland research has found.

UQ’s School of Psychology and Queensland Brain Institute Associate Professor Ross Cunnington examined whether people’s brains responded to people of other races differently following an increase in contact with that race.

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May 10 2015

Patents for technology to read people’s minds hugely increasing


Companies are taking out a huge amount of patents related to reading brainwaves, according to analysis, with a range of different applications.

Fewer than 400 neuro-technology related patents were filed between 2000-2009. But in 2010 alone that reached 800, and last year 1,600 were filed, according to research company SharpBrains.

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May 10 2015

New centimeter-accurate GPS system could transform virtual reality and mobile devices


Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a centimeter-accurate GPS-based positioning system that could revolutionize geolocation on virtual reality headsets, cellphones and other technologies, making global positioning and orientation far more precise than what is currently available on a mobile device.


Related: Better than GPS: a history of cartography in 12 amazing maps

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May 10 2015

Two-dimensional material seems to disappear, but doesn't


When exposed to air, a luminescent 2D material called molybdenum telluride (MoTe2) appears to decompose within a couple days, losing its optical contrast and becoming virtually transparent. But when scientists probed further, they found that the disappearance is an illusion: the material remains structurally stable, and only its material properties change. The results reveal insight into the environmental stability and unusual properties of a newer class of 2D materials called transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs).

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May 10 2015

Manned Mars Plan: Phobos by 2033, Martian Surface by 2039?


Humanity's path to Mars may go through the Red Planet's tiny moon Phobos.

An incremental, multiple-mission approach that envisions getting astronauts to Phobos by 2033, then down to the Martian surface by 2039 could make manned Mars exploration technologically and economically feasible, said Firouz Naderi, head of the Solar System Exploration Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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May 10 2015

Mercury's mysterious magnetic past goes back 4 billion years, study finds


Examining rocks on Mercury’s surface, scientists using data from NASA’s Messenger spacecraft have revealed that the planet probably had a much stronger magnetic field nearly 4 billion years ago.

The findings, published in the journal Science, offer insight into the field's power source: the liquid dynamo in the planet’s outer core.

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May 10 2015

Astronomers catch glimpse across ’95 percent of all time’ after finding 13-billion-year-old galaxy


Galaxy EGS-zs8-1 has moved 30bn light-years away from Earth since it was born: ‘We’re actually looking back through 95% of all time to see this galaxy’

A team of astronomers has measured a galaxy farther than any other ever seen by human beings, reporting this week that the ancient star system offers a glimpse of what the universe was like not all that long after the beginning of time.

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