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December 30 2014

Large Hadron Collider ready to delve even deeper than ‘God particle’ as it switches back on


CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is set to be switched back on in March — hoping that a £97 million upgrade could push it to even greater discoveries, after it found the “God particle” in 2012.

The second three year run of the huge atom smasher will begin in March 2015. The Large Hadron Collider has been switched off since its last run finished in 2012.

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December 30 2014

Machine Intelligence Cracks Genetic Controls


Every cell in your body reads the same genome, the DNA-encoded instruction set that builds proteins. But your cells couldn’t be more different. Neurons send electrical messages, liver cells break down chemicals, muscle cells move the body. How do cells employ the same basic set of genetic instructions to carry out their own specialized tasks? The answer lies in a complex, multilayered system that controls how proteins are made.

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December 30 2014

Using DNA to catch canine culprits — and their owners


Joe Gillmer had a problem. A big, stinky, sole-troubling problem plaguing Midtown Alexandria Station condos, where he serves as board vice president.

How to put this gently? Dog, er, waste in the vestibule, in the elevator (yes, really), and — this particularly incensed Gillmer — in the garage beside handicapped parking, making life difficult for residents with physical challenges.

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December 30 2014

Buzzed birds slur their songs, researchers find


You know how that guy at the karaoke bar singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" sounds a little off after he’s had a few drinks? The same goes for buzzed birds, according to a team led by researchers from Oregon Health & Science University.

For a study published in PLoS ONE, scientists found that when they got some unsuspecting zebra finches drunk, the birds slurred their songs. The findings could help scientists study the neural processes underlying birdsong – and shed light on human speech.

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December 30 2014

Visiting a park could save your life, scientists say


City dwellers should visit parks more often and take advantage of this free and easy way to boost their physical and mental health, environmental scientists have urged.

New research from the National Environmental Research Program's Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP's EDH) shows that despite the abundance of parks in Australian cities, only 60 per cent of the urban population are using these facilities in any week.

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December 29 2014

Scientists race to save 'books' in the burning 'library of life'


As species blink into extinction all around the world, environmental scientists in Australia have come up with a way to decide 'which of the books we rescue from the blazing library of life'.

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) have developed a cost-effective way to save a wide range of threatened species, including rare old ones that may be costly to protect.

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December 29 2014

‘Noah's Ark’: Russia to build world first DNA databank of all living things


Not quite the Biblical Noah’s Ark, but possibly the next best thing. Moscow State University has secured Russia’s largest-ever scientific grant to collect the DNA of every living and extinct creature for the world’s first database of its kind.

The gigantic ‘ark’, set to be completed by 2018, will be 430 sq km in size, built at one of the university’s central campuses.

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December 29 2014

Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?


Bright stars top Christmas trees in Christian homes around much of the world. The faithful sing about the Star of Wonder that guided the wise men to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. They're commemorating the Star of Bethlehem described by the Evangelist Matthew in the New Testament. Is the star's biblical description a pious fiction or does it contain some astronomical truth?

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December 29 2014

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is Sunburn, NASA Scientists Say


According to a new study led by Dr Kevin Baines of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the reddish color of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter is likely a product of chemicals being broken apart by solar ultraviolet (UV) light in the planet’s upper atmosphere.

“Our models suggest most of the Great Red Spot is actually pretty bland in color, beneath the upper cloud layer of reddish material,” Dr Baines said.

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December 29 2014

Venus Gets Weirder: CO2 Oceans May Have Covered Surface


Venus may have once possessed strange oceans of carbon dioxide fluid that helped shape the planet's surface, researchers say.

Venus is often described as Earth's twin planet because it is the world closest to Earth in size, mass, distance and chemical makeup. However, whereas Earth is a haven for life, Venusis typically described as hellish, with a crushing atmosphere and clouds of corrosive sulfuric acid floating over a rocky desert surface hot enough to melt lead.

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December 29 2014

Finding faster-than-light particles by weighing them


In a new paper accepted by the journal Astroparticle Physics, Robert Ehrlich, a recently retired physicist from George Mason University, claims that the neutrino is very likely a tachyon or faster-than-light particle. There have been many such claims, the last being in 2011 when the "OPERA" experiment measured the speed of neutrinos and claimed they travelled a tiny amount faster than light. However, when their speed was measured again the original result was found to be in error – the result of a loose cable no less.

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December 29 2014

Did Microbes Shape the Human Lifespan?


The microbes that live in and on humans may have evolved to preferentially take down the elderly in the population, a new computer model suggests.

That, in turn, could have allowed children a greater share of food and resources, thereby enabling an extended childhood. Such a microbial bias may also have kept the first human populations more stable and resilient to upheavals, the findings suggest.

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December 29 2014

Why Americanising Your Name Leads To A Higher Income


Is your name holding you back from a life of riches? It sounds like something out of a terrible infomercial, but a recent paper* suggests that changing your name really could improve your labour-market chances. The authors focus on the economic impact of name Americanisation for migrants in the 1930s, with surprising results.

Economists—most famously the Freakonomics duo, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner—have long worried that having the “wrong” name could set you back in the labour market.

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December 29 2014

Banish Procrastination by Thinking Differently About Deadlines


What makes some tasks harder than others to tackle? It turns out the time allotted for the work matters less than how our mind perceives the deadline. When a deadline feels like it is part of the present—say, falling within the current calendar month—we are more likely to begin the task.

In one experiment, researchers asked 100 undergraduates when they would start a data-entry task that they had five days to complete.

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December 29 2014

Children with mental health issues 'should learn the violin'


Learning to play an instrument may be more effective for treating childhood psychological problems than pills, a study has found.

Children who play musical instruments are more focused, emotionally controlled and less anxious.

Brain scans found playing music altered the motor areas of the brain, because the activity requires control and coordination of movement.

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December 29 2014

The Perks of Bickering in a Second Language


On the most recent episode of “On the Media,” there was a really interesting segment in which Brooke Gladstone spoke with Boaz Keysar and Albert Costa, two researchers working on the question of how bilingual people might make certain decisions differently depending on which language the decision is described in.

As Keysar explained, it appears that when bilingual people are given decisions to make in their non-native language, they seem to take a more rational, less quick-draw approach — maybe because processing the scenario takes a bit more cognitive energy.

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December 29 2014

New article: No Good News From The West, By Alann de Vuyst


In this article Alann de Vuyst explains why he as an artist must oppose the war on drugs.

Today it occurred to me that something is at stake. Something very important to me: art produced in a shamanic way. At the beginning of the foundation of this group, I believe I mentioned that a gallery in Spain decided not to exhibit my works because a French agency that curates the artists and art works for the gallery would not choose an artist if he or she would consume substances that are prohibited in the EU or classified as class A drugs.

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