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September 1 2014

Google reveals home delivery drone program Project Wing


Google has become the latest tech giant to get into the drone business.

The company announced late on Thursday that its advanced-research arm, Google X, is developing a system of drones to deliver goods. Amazon announced a similar scheme to great fanfare but little actual progress late last year.

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September 1 2014

Spike in UFO sightings across Queensland


The truth is out there - and maybe it is hovering over Queensland.

There has been a spike in the number of reported UFO sightings across the state over recent months, according to president of UFO Research Queensland Sheryl Gottschall, with the Gold Coast being a real "hot spot".


Related: ‘UFO’ spotted hovering over Melbourne for more than an hour

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August 31 2014

Scientists Prepare to Solve Mystery of Sumerian DNA


The ancient Sumerians, builders of the world’s first known civilization, are a mystery to us. Settling in what we would now call southern Iraq from about 5400 BCE on, they produced a written language, a complex system of mythology, impressive architecture, and a lost world that held regional hegemony for thousands of years. We don’t know where their language came from; we don’t even know where their genes came from. We have no idea who their modern descendants would be, and we’ve never been able to test the DNA of Sumerian remains.

Well, not until now.

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August 31 2014

Were Modern Ideas—and the American Revolution—Born on Ships at Sea?


We're used to thinking that big ideas are dreamed up on land by philosophers and writers anchored to their desks.

In his new book, Outlaws of the Atlantic: Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail, Marcus Rediker, distinguished professor of Atlantic history at the University of Pittsburgh, turns that assumption upside down, showing that many of the ideas that shaped the modern world were, in fact, born on the ocean waves among sailors, pirates, and slaves.

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August 31 2014

What can 14th century Venice teach us about Ebola and other emerging threats?


The way in which the Italian city of Venice dealt with the outbreak of the plague in the fourteenth century holds lessons on how to even mitigate the consequences of today's emerging threats, like climate change, terrorism, and highly infectious or drug-resistant diseases. So says Dr. Igor Linkov of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and a visiting professor of the Ca Foscari University in Italy.

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August 31 2014

New study reveals how wild rabbits were genetically transformed into tame rabbits


The domestication of animals and plants, a prerequisite for the development of agriculture, is one of the most important technological revolutions during human history.

The genetic changes that transformed wild animals into domesticated forms have long been a mystery. An international team of scientists has now made a breakthrough by showing that many genes controlling the development of the brain and the nervous system were particularly important for rabbit domestication.

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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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