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November 22 2014

Banking culture primes people to cheat


A study of investment managers and traders at a major international bank suggests that the financial industry's culture encourages dishonest behaviour, but that the individuals themselves are not inherently dishonest.

The reputation of the financial sector has taken a bashing in the wake of the 2008 global financial meltdown, and after scandals involving the manipulation of interest rates, fraudulent deals and rogue traders losing billions of dollars.


Related: Liberals are more emotion-driven than conservatives

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November 22 2014

Magic shoes: How to hear yourself instantly happy


Perception-skewing shoes can make you feel slimmer, happier and full of energy by retuning your body's soundtrack.

Such footwear sounds fantastical, but these shoes are just one of a number of new experiments revealing how the noises we make have an immediate and profound effect on the way we experience our bodies, on our emotions and our behaviour. The trick here is not in the shoes themselves, but in the way they change the sound of my footsteps.

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November 22 2014

What Texting Does to the Spine


Sixty pounds is roughly the weight of four adult-sized bowling balls. Or six plastic grocery bags worth of food. Or an 8-year-old.

It is also, according to a new calculation published in the journal Surgical Technology International, the amount of force exerted on the head of an adult human who is looking down at her phone.

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November 22 2014

Blind From Birth, But Able To Use Sound To 'See' Faces


The area of the brain that recognizes faces can use sound instead of sight. That recent discovery suggests facial recognition is so important to humans that it's part of our most basic wiring.

A brain area that recognizes faces remains functional even in people who have been blind since birth, researchers say. The finding, presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this week, suggests that facial recognition is so important that evolution has hardwired it into the human brain.

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November 22 2014

Contact lenses with built-in video could be 3D printed


Who needs Glass when you've got contact lenses that can display video and even detect health problems? What's more, lenses with these capabilities could one day be created using a 3D printer.

Most of today's 3D printers work with scraps of plastic or metal and turn them into simple objects. But Michael McAlpine at Princeton University and his colleagues have developed a 3D printer that can make a five-layered contact lens, one which emits light into the wearer's eyes.


Related: A Debatable Fix for Young Eyes

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November 22 2014

Robots spent six years acting like humans in three Tennessee homes


For six years, a group of robots lived in three houses on a street in Campbell Creek, Tennessee. No humans resided there with them. The house was solely occupied by robots, fake sweat machines, and a bunch of electronic appliances, which turned on every day — right on schedule.

The Tennessee Valley Authority put the robots in these homes back in 2009 to study energy efficiency, reports Popular Science. The homes themselves were set up to mimic typical suburban households. They were equipped with TVs, dishwashers, and washing machines — all of which turned on and off throughout the day.

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November 22 2014

Crime-Fighting Robots Go On Patrol In Silicon Valley


A new kind of security guard is on patrol in Silicon Valley: crime-fighting robots that look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie.

At first glance, the K5 security robot looks like a cartoonish Star Wars character.

They are unarmed, but they are imposing: about 5 feet tall and 300 pounds, which very likely will make someone think twice before committing a crime in their presence.

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November 22 2014

How Supercomputing Is Cracking The Mysteries Of Human Origins


A Texas supercomputer capable of 9.6 quadrillion operations per second has solved a thorny problem in genetics, by looking at the bones of a young boy who died 24,000 years ago in Mal’ta in south-central Siberia.

Existing genetic models have suggested that modern Europeans share DNA with 3 different groups: blue-eyed, swarthy hunter-gatherers who arrived in Europe some 40,000 years ago; a second group of light-skinned, brown-eyed farmers from the Near East who migrated about 7,000 years ago; and a third mystery group who arrived more recently to share their genes. But no one knew who this "ghost population" was.

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November 22 2014

Permafrost soil: Possible source of abrupt rise in greenhouse gases at end of last ice age


Scientists have identified a possible source of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that were abruptly released to the atmosphere in large quantities around 14,600 years ago.


Related: Global warming ‘will make our winters colder’

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November 22 2014

Little Ice Age was global: Implications for current global warming


Researchers have shed new light on the climate of the Little Ice Age, and rekindled debate over the role of the sun in climate change. The new study, which involved detailed scientific examination of a peat bog in southern South America, indicates that the most extreme climate episodes of the Little Ice Age were felt not just in Europe and North America, which is well known, but apparently globally.


Related: Deep-earth carbon offers clues on origin of life on Earth

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November 22 2014

Humans needed barley to conquer Tibet's giddy heights


It's known as the roof of the world. At altitudes of over 2.5 kilometres, the north-eastern Tibetan plateau proved daunting but irresistible terrain to ancient human societies. But it wasn't until they got their hands on frost-resistant barley that they could permanently settle these heady heights.

Archaeological evidence, including handprints and footprints found at 4.2 kilometres above sea level, suggests humans had an intermittent presence on the Tibetan Plateau as long as 20,000 years ago.


Related: Geologists discover ancient buried canyon in South Tibet

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November 22 2014

Small 'Underwater Pompeii' Found Off Greek Island


Remains of an ancient settlement, complete with a ruined pottery workshop, have been found on the bottom of the Aegean sea off the small island of Delos, the Greek ministry of culture has announced.

Dubbed by the Greek media “a small underwater Pompeii,” the structures lay at a depth of just 6 feet on the northeastern coast of Delos.

“In the past these ruins were identified as port facilities,” the culture ministry said.

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November 22 2014

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Wearing Jewels Found


Spanish archaeologists digging in Egypt have unearthed a female mummy still wearing her jewels.

The mummy was discovered in the necropolis below the temple of Pharaoh Thutmosis III (1490-1436 B.C.), on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor (southern Egypt). The find dates to the Middle Kingdom (2137-1781 B.C.).

For nearly four millennia, the “Lady of the Jewels,” as the mummy was nicknamed, eluded tomb raiders, her sarcophagus trapped under a collapsed roof.

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November 22 2014

This 2000-Year-Old Pigment Can Eliminate The Third Dimension


Han purple is an ancient pigment that wasn't reconstructed by modern chemists until 1992. After the chemists got done with it, it was the physicists' turn. Han purple, they found, eliminates an entire dimension. It makes waves go two-dimensional!

You'll see Han purple on the famous terracotta warriors surrounding the tomb of the first emperor of China, or on ancient pottery and other works of art. Where you won't see it is on anything made between 220 A.D. and 1992, because after the pigment disappeared it took 1700 years to re-discover it.

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November 21 2014

China’s 7,000-strong Terracotta Army all modelled on individual soldiers, 3D imaging reveals


When it was unearthed by a man digging a well in rural China almost exactly 40 years ago, the Terracotta Army took the world by storm to become one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time.

Now, four decades later, scientists have discovered the first evidence which they say could prove that each of the clay figures in the army is modelled on an individual, real soldier – offering an unprecedented insight into China’s earliest empire.

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November 21 2014

Electron Beam Points to Origins of Teotihuacan Stone Faces


Dramatic stone masks, iconic finds in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan, were supposed to be made from a jadelike stone. Many researchers also thought the large faces were made on the site of the pre-Columbian metropolis. Instead, they seem to have been made in workshops a great distance to the south of the city. And they are made of softer stone like serpentinite and polished with quartz. Quartz does not appear around Teotihuacan, bolstering the notion that the masks were made far away. “Almost everything that has been written about the making of the Teotihuacan masks is untrue,” says Jane Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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November 21 2014

Laser from a plane discovers Roman goldmines in Spain


Las Medulas in Leon is considered to be the largest opencast goldmine of the Roman Empire, but the search for this metal extended many kilometres further south-east to the Erica river valley.

Thanks to a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) laser system attached to an aircraft, the ancient mining works of the area and the complex hydraulics system used by the Romans in the 1st century BC to extract gold (including channels, reservoirs and a double river diversion) have been discovered.

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