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August 23 2014

39 kilotons a year: Mysterious source of ozone-depleting chemical banned since 2009 baffles NASA


A chemical used in dry cleaning and fire extinguishers may have been phased out in recent years but NASA said Wednesday that carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is still being spewed into the atmosphere from an unknown source.

The world agreed to stop using CC14 as part of the Vienna Convention on Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol, which attained universal ratification in 2009.

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August 23 2014

Has Earth's Missing Heat Been Found?


Where, oh where, is the planet's missing heat?

In 1999, the feverish rise in Earth's surface temperatures suddenly slowed, even as greenhouse gas emissions escalated. This unexpected slowdown has been called a global warming hiatus or global warming pause. Most climate scientists don't think this hiatus means global warming went kaput, but the reason (or reasons) for the slowdown has scientists flummoxed. Researchers have offered more than two dozen ideas to explain the missing heat.

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August 23 2014

Models challenge temperature reconstruction of last 12,000 years


Climate records, like tree rings or ice cores, are invaluable archives of past climate, but they each reflect their local conditions. If you really want a global average for some time period, you’re going to have to combine many reliable records from around the world and do your math very carefully.

That’s what a group of researchers aimed to do when (as Ars covered) they used 73 records to calculate a global overview of the last 11,000 years—the warm period after the last ice age that's called the Holocene.

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August 22 2014

Neanderthals 'overlapped' with modern humans for up to 5,400 years


Neanderthals and modern humans were both living in Europe for between 2,600 and 5,400 years, according to a new paper published in the journal, Nature. For the first time, scientists have constructed a robust timeline showing when the last Neanderthals died out.


Related: Neanderthals and humans had 'ample time' to mix
Related: Neanderthal demise traced in unprecedented detail

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August 22 2014

Paleolithic diet of snails 10,000 years earlier than previously thought


Paleolithic inhabitants of modern-day Spain may have eaten snails 10,000 years earlier than their Mediterranean neighbors, according to a study published August 20, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Snails were widespread in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene, but it is still unknown when and how they were incorporated into human diets. The authors of this study found land snail shell remains from ~30,000 years ago at a recently discovered site in Cova de la Barriada, Spain.

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August 22 2014

Seals, not Spaniards, first brought TB to Americas


BLAME the marine mammals. Seals and sea lions may have brought a form of tuberculosis to the Americas, centuries before the Spanish did so.

There's little doubt that the Spanish carried measles, malaria, influenza and smallpox to the New World, when the conquistadores followed in Columbus's wake and began conquering the native peoples. Many assumed that they also brought Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium behind TB. But in the 1970s, 1000-year-old skeletons were found in Peru with apparent signs of TB. The Spanish didn't arrive until 1492, so how they became infected was a mystery.

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August 22 2014

Horses use their ears to communicate with each other


If you’ve ever spent time with a horse, you’ve probably noticed how mobile their ears are; not only can they point up or lie flat, but they can swivel nearly 180 degrees! Horse handlers harness this mobility to tell a lot about how a horse is feeling by ear-watching. But it is less clear whether horses use their ears to communicate to each other. To test this, British scientists let horses choose to feed from one of two buckets.

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August 22 2014

Western Scrub Jays Are Capable of Metacognition


When you do not know the answer to a question, say, a crossword puzzle hint, you realize your shortcomings and devise a strategy for finding the missing information. The ability to identify the state of your knowledge—thinking about thinking—is known as metacognition. It is hard to tell whether other animals are also capable of metacognition because we cannot ask them; studies of primates and birds have not yet been able to rule out simpler explanations for this complex process.

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August 22 2014

How lizards regenerate their tails: researchers discover genetic 'recipe'


By understanding the secret of how lizards regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic “recipe” for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.

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August 22 2014

Cities Are Making Spiders Grow Bigger and Multiply Faster


Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.

A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.

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August 22 2014

Paving the way for cyborg moth 'biobots'


Researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals moths use to control those muscles. The work opens the door to the development of remotely-controlled moths, or 'biobots,' for use in emergency response.

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August 22 2014

Digital textbooks adapt to your level as you learn


Struggling with chapter 3? Adaptive textbooks will give you extra, personalised help when you need it

TIRED of learning from a dusty old textbook? Try a book that learns from you. Students in Houston, Texas, are about to get their hands on the first digital schoolbooks that use artificial intelligence to personalise lessons. The aim, says the books' creator, is to "explode the book" and rethink how students learn from texts.

"We want to be able to create the perfect book for every person,".

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August 22 2014

Body Odor and Brain Waves: 5 Cool New ID Technologies


Many driver's licenses and passports have holograms and other types of sophisticated security embedded in them, but for the most part, people still heavily rely on ID cards to prove who they are. Biometric identification technologies, such as fingerprinting and iris scanning, are already being used to speed up security clearance at several airports in the United States. Iris scanning is also gaining support in the health care industry, as a way to prevent fraud and combat identity theft. Now, ID tech is moving into new realms, with devices that could distinguish individuals by their veins, brain waves and even body odor.

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August 22 2014

Here’s The Real Secret to Detecting Lies (And It’s Not Body Language)


Despite all the advice about lie detection going around, study after study has found that it is very difficult to spot when someone is lying.

Previous tests involving watching videos of suspects typically find that both experts and non-experts come in at around 50/50: in other words you might as well flip a coin.

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August 22 2014

Some Types of Fables May Be Better at Teaching Kids Not to Lie


To teach children not to lie, extolling the virtues of honesty may be more effective than focusing on the punishing consequences of deception.

After listening to how a young George Washington admitted to chopping down a cherry tree—”I cannot tell a lie,” he famously said—children were significantly less likely to lie about their own dishonesty than if they heard “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “Pinocchio.”.

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August 22 2014

Child's drawing 'predicts later intelligence'


The way children draw at the age of four can be a predictor of later intelligence, a study has suggested.

Researchers asked 7,752 pairs of twins to draw a picture of a child which was then scored by the number of features such as head, legs, hands and feet.

The children were also asked by the King's College, London team to complete intelligence tests at age four and 14.

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August 22 2014

Physically fit kids have beefier brain white matter than their less-fit peers


A new study of 9- and 10-year-olds finds that those who are more aerobically fit have more fibrous and compact white-matter tracts in the brain than their peers who are less fit. 'White matter' describes the bundles of axons that carry nerve signals from one brain region to another. More compact white matter is associated with faster and more efficient nerve activity.

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