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December 2 2014

Nature makes all articles free to view


All research papers from Nature will be made free to read in a proprietary screen-view format that can be annotated but not copied, printed or downloaded, the journal’s publisher Macmillan announced on 2 December.

The content-sharing policy, which also applies to 48 other journals in Macmillan’s Nature Publishing Group (NPG) division, including Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine and Nature Physics, marks an attempt to let scientists freely read and share articles while preserving NPG’s primary source of income — the subscription fees libraries and individuals pay to gain access to articles.

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December 1 2014

Search for the world's first zero leads to the home of Angkor Wat


The first recorded zero has been rediscovered on a stone tablet deep in the Cambodian jungle - a single dot chiseled into stone, hidden decades ago from the grasp of the Khmer Rouge. This is one of the only photos in existence of the priceless find.

US-based mathematician, Amir Aczel, made it his life’s work to find the world’s first zero. Having already discovered the first magic square inscribed on the doorway of a 10th-century Indian temple, this ‘mathematical archaeologist’ had come to know of K-127 - a stone stele first documented in 1931 that clearly held the inscription “605”. Dated to AD 683, it’s the oldest known representation of zero - a numeral that Aczel describes as the most significant of them all.

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December 1 2014

Author asks: was Leonardo Da Vinci's mother a Chinese slave?


Was Leonardo da Vinci's mother a Chinese slave? That astounding theory is being put forward by a Hong Kong-based historian and novelist who has spent the last two years piecing documents together to connect the dots.


Alt: Was the Mona Lisa actually a portrait of Da Vinci's CHINESE mother? Author says she was slave

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December 1 2014

Rice Farming Linked to Holistic Thinking


Often we view Chinese culture through an East versus West lens. But joint research from the U.S. and China indicates that northern Chinese may have a mind-set closer to individualistic Americans than their southern compatriots. And the reason is rice.

The Yangtze River splits China into north and south and serves as an agricultural and cultural divide, explains University of Virginia doctoral candidate Thomas Talhelm, first author of the study, which appears in Science. Farmers north of the Yangtze predominantly grow wheat, and those to the south grow rice.

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December 1 2014

Does Good Music Make Us Better People?


A recent Japanese study suggests that listening to good music might make us more altruistic, while bad music makes us more selfish.

By “chill-inducing” the authors are talking about music that the listener enjoys, e.g. music to which the listener wants to chill rather than music that literally induces chills. Lots of caveats here, of course: it’s a small-scale study, the dictator game is far too low-risk to be a reliable indicator of altruism, and so forth. But we’ve already established that music can increase stamina, so it’s not a huge stretch to speculate that it might increase or diminish our capacity for altruism, too.

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December 1 2014

Rude comments online are a reality we can't get away from


Any verbal exchange – whether a scientific panel discussion, lovers quarrelling in a hallway, or the political hard-talk of a live interview – is a very sophisticated human activity.

Besides the intricate relationship between syntax, semantics and phonetics of the language used – itself something that takes years to master – there are all the unwritten conversational rules about turn-taking and reading body language that need to be understood and practiced in order for any exchange of opinion to work effectively.

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December 1 2014

Why the touch-deprived can’t wait for Portland’s ‘cuddle shop’


Last week a cuddling shop opened in Portland, Oregon, immediately attracting interest from thousands of potential clients drawn to the idea of platonic touch (for $60, for instance, they can purchase an hour of cuddling). The runaway success of the venture may seem surprising, but it’s part of a broader trend – hugging sessions involving groups of people are also becoming popular, and massage therapy is one of the fastest-growing professions in the US.


Alt: Woman Opens Professional Cuddling Shop, Struggles to Keep Up with Demand

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December 1 2014

The smart mouse with the half-human brain


What would Stewart Little make of it? Mice have been created whose brains are half human. As a result, the animals are smarter than their siblings.

The idea is not to mimic fiction, but to advance our understanding of human brain diseases by studying them in whole mouse brains rather than in dishes.


Alt: Mice with half-human brains four times smarter than their peers: scientists

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December 1 2014

Amazon's new robot army is ready to ship


A year ago, Amazon.com workers like 34-year-old Rejinaldo Rosales hiked miles of aisles each shift to "pick" each item a customer ordered and prepare it for shipping.

Now the e-commerce giant boasts that it has boosted efficiency - and given workers' legs a break - by deploying more than 15,000 wheeled robots to crisscross the floors of its biggest warehouses and deliver stacks of toys, books and other products to employees.


Related: Coffee with Pepper? Robot sells espresso machines in Japan

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December 1 2014

90,000 will send hellos to Mars


Radio telescopes on Earth will beam 90,000 messages to Mars on Friday to commemorate the launch 50 years ago of the first robotic probe to visit the planet.

A U.S. space-funding company called Uwingu organized the extraterrestrial shout-out to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Mariner 4 mission and to raise funds for its other projects.

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December 1 2014

'Mystery Bangs' Over UK Sounded Like Secret 'Pulsejet Engine'


A series of mysterious, apparently inexplicable explosions heard around the UK were eerily reminiscent of a futuristic 'pulse detonation jet' an expert has said.

The strange bangs were reported around the UK (and as far away as New York) on 29 November, with residents from Aberdeen to Croydon noting the blasts on Twitter.


Alt: Were mysterious bangs heard all over Britain and in New York caused by U.S. stealth jet? Expert claims noises mimicked 'pulse detonation engine' - which could power rumoured Aurora project

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December 1 2014

Alien Angel Hair Has Portugal Watching for UFOs


These willowy wisps have been seen falling from the sky around the world since at least the 1500s. They’ve been attributed to UFOs, spiders and religious miracles – hence the name. Witnesses in Portugal spotted them on consecutive weekends in late October. Alien angel hair is falling again and there’s still no explanation for it.

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December 1 2014

A Nineteenth Century Japanese Folk Tale Still Inspires UFO-Believers


In the early 1800s, two folk tales circulated around Japan. Both involved a very strange woman emerging from a very strange ship. Her dress and appearance seemed out of this world. What happened?

There are two versions of this story. One was written in 1825 and one in 1844. In both versions, some Japanese sailors happened to notice, floating in the ocean, a very strange vessel. It was circular, which was not so unusual. What caught there attention was that it seemed to have a lid that covered the top of the ship, and glass windows.

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December 1 2014

The Mystery of Jesus in Japan


No matter what one’s religious affiliation, there is no denying that one of the most readily recognizable figures in all of the world’s religions is none other than Jesus Christ. There is a rich history of stories and adventures attributed to this iconic figure, but did one of these adventures involve Jesus traveling to ancient Japan? According to the folklore of one remote mountain village in the northern corner of Japan, Jesus Christ not only journeyed to Japan, but also found his final resting place here rather than dying on the cross in Golgotha.

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December 1 2014

Stunning Mosaics Uncovered in Ancient City of Zeugma


An international team of archaeologists has unearthed three 2,200-year-old, well-preserved glass mosaics at the site of the ancient city of Zeugma in Turkey.

The ancient city of Zeugma, also known as Seleukia-on-the-Euphrates, is located in modern Gaziantep province, where the Euphrates river rounds its furthest bend to the west and begins to flow south into the Syrian desert.

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December 1 2014

Ancient coins which may feature Alexander the Great found in Greece’s mystery tomb


Coins featuring the face of Alexander the Great have been found at the largest tomb ever unearthed in Greece, where archaeologists are hunting for clues to solve the mystery of who lies buried there.

The enormous tomb at Amphipolis in northern Greece dates back to the fourth century BC and contains near-intact sculptures and intricate mosaics.

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December 1 2014

Stonehenge road tunnel plan: some say victory, others say disaster


Reaction to the government’s announcement of proposals to bury the A303 under Stonehenge in a tunnel is deeply split among archaeologists and conservation groups, some regarding it as a historic victory, others as a disaster which will irreparably damage a world heritage site.

English Heritage and the National Trust – owners of the site and the surrounding landscape – hailed a momentous victory for the historic environment, but others accused them of abuse of guardianship for accepting a tunnel far too short to solve any problems.

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