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May 26 2014

Rwanda's deadly methane lake becomes source of future power


Beneath the calm waters of Lake Kivu lie vast but deadly reserves of methane and carbon dioxide, which Rwanda is tapping both to save lives and provide a lucrative power source.

Plans are in place to pump out enough gas for power that would nearly double Rwanda's current electricity capacity, as well as reducing the chance of what experts warn could be a potentially "catastrophic" natural disaster.

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May 25 2014

This Hellish Desert Pit Has Been On Fire for More Than 40 Years


There are places on Earth that are a little creepy, places that feel a little haunted and places that are downright hellish. The Darvaza gas crater, nicknamed by locals "The Door to Hell," or "The Gates of Hell," definitely falls into the latter category—and its sinister burning flames are just the half of it. Located in the Karakum Desert of central Turkmenistan (a little over 150 miles from the country's capital) the pit attracts hundreds of tourists each year. It also attracts nearby desert wildlife—reportedly, from time to time local spiders are seen plunging into the pit by the thousands, lured to their deaths by the glowing flames.

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May 25 2014

History shows that parched Aral Sea can be restored


In less than a century, humanity destroyed the Aral Sea. It is one of the most emblematic environmental disasters. But now it seems the sea has collapsed at least twice before, and recovered both times.

In 1961, the Aral Sea in central Asia was the world's fourth largest lake. But massive irrigation programmes begun during the Soviet era diverted water from the rivers that feed it, reducing the lake's volume to just 10 per cent of what it was and leaving large areas dry.

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May 25 2014

Giving the Amazon rainforest back to the Awa tribe


Logging in the Brazilian Amazon has had a devastating effect on the rainforest and its indigenous people. However, a new operation by the army, air force and military police is designed to save an endangered tribe - by keeping loggers off their land.

It took Pira'I two small steps to get up into the helicopter, but those steps bridged two completely different worlds.

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May 25 2014

Promising discovery in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria


Researchers at the University of British Columbia have identified a small molecule that prevents bacteria from forming into biofilms, a frequent cause of infections. The anti-biofilm peptide works on a range of bacteria including many that cannot be treated by antibiotics.

“Currently there is a severe problem with antibiotic-resistant organisms,” says Bob Hancock, a professor in UBC’s Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology and lead author of the study published today in PLOS Pathogens. “Our entire arsenal of antibiotics is gradually losing effectiveness.”

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May 25 2014

Marijuana May Reduce Seizures In Epilepsy Patients


A case study of a family living in Denver, Colo. suggests that cannabis can help treat intractable seizures in children. The child in the family suffers from a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome and used to have as many as 50 convulsions a day.

The mother started giving the child a strain of marijuana with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in the plant that does not produce a "high," Live Science Reported. Soon after taking the drug along with her typical anti-epilepsy medication, the seizures decreased considerably and now the child suffers from just two to three seizures per month.

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May 25 2014

Overexposed? Camera Phones Could Be Washing Out Our Memories


With parents flooding their camera phones with hundreds of photos — from loose teeth to hissy fits to each step in the potty training process — how might the ubiquity of photos change childhood memories?

Maryanne Garry, a psychology professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, is trying to figure that out. For years, she's studied the effects of photography on our childhood memories.

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May 25 2014

Consciousness Might Emerge from a Data Broadcast


Quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli expressed disdain for sloppy, nonsensical theories by denigrating them as “not even wrong,” meaning they were just empty conjectures that could be quickly dismissed. Unfortunately, many remarkably popular theories of consciousness are of this ilk—the idea, for instance, that our experiences can somehow be explained by the quantum theory that Pauli himself helped to formulate in the early 20th century.

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May 25 2014

Heal Yourself By Harnessing Your Mind


We tend to think of medicine as being all about pills and potions recommended to us by another person—a doctor. But science is starting to reveal that for many conditions another ingredient could be critical to the success of these drugs, or perhaps even replace them. That ingredient is nothing more than your own mind.

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May 25 2014

Unlike us, chickens regrow lost hearing cells


Being able to to discern pitch—to hear the difference between “cat,” “bat,” and “hat,” for example—hinges on remarkable gradations in specialized cells within the inner ear.

New research is the first to explain what controls these cells’ development and patterning—findings crucial to efforts to reverse hearing loss caused by age, loud sounds, or other factors.

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May 25 2014

Mummified mammoth: Can we clone this critter?


The star of a new mammoth exhibition at London's Natural History Museum is 42,000 years old.

She goes by the moniker, Lyuba, which means "love" in Russian. This diminutive mummified baby mammoth was found frozen in the Yuribei River in the Yamal Pennisula, Siberia.

Professor Adrian Lister, the museum's mammoths expert, said according to a Press Association report."One question everyone asks is can you clone a mammoth?".

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May 25 2014

Remains of burnt ancient city found in Chandigarh


Remnants of a burnt ancient city, believed to be dating back to 2nd century BC, have been found in an archaeological site in Tarighat, nearly 30 km from here. The “gutted settlement” reminds one the famed Roman city of Pompeii that got buried under 13-20 feet of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

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May 25 2014

Whatever happened to the great apes of Europe?


It was more than 14 million years ago that ancient apes departed Africa and began radiating throughout Europe and Asia, according to scientists. So why don't we see apes in Europe today?

Researchers in Spain argue that a variety of great apes went extinct in Europe about 7 million years ago because the qualities that allowed them to spread throughout the Old World were the same that sealed their fate.

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May 25 2014

Our ancient caveman instincts may explain our belief in gods and ghosts


Notions of gods arise in all human societies, from all powerful and all-knowing deities to simple forest spirits. A recent method of examining religious thought and behaviour links their ubiquity and the similarity of our beliefs to the ways in which human mental processes were adapted for survival in prehistoric timesd.

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May 25 2014

Prehistoric hunting scenes unearthed in Spanish cave


A series of hunting scenes dating from 7,000 years ago have been found by archaeologists on the six-metre long wall of a small cave in the region of Vilafranca in Castellón, eastern Spain—but it is being kept a secret for now.

A layer of dust and dirt covered ten figures, including bulls, two archers and a goat. The murals were exposed to harsh weather but the paintings pigments have not seriously deteriorated.

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May 25 2014

Fossil avatars are transforming palaeontology


New techniques for visualizing fossils are transforming our understanding of evolutionary history according to a paper published by leading palaeontologists at the University of Bristol.

Palaeontology has traditionally proceeded slowly, with individual scientists labouring for years or even decades over the interpretation of single fossils which they have gradually recovered from entombing rock, sand grain by sand grain, using all manner of dental drills and needles.

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May 25 2014

Mummy X-rays let you peel its body to reveal insides


You can now undress a mummy, peel away its skin and peer inside its body – virtually of course.

This video of Tamut, a priest's daughter who lived and died in ancient Egypt in about 900 BC, uses high-definition CT scans to reveal details of her health. It shows a deep abscess in her jaw that would have been excruciatingly painful, arteries full of fatty plaque – a high risk for heart attack and stroke – and amulets on her body that indicate her high status.

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