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August 29 2014

This fish walks better when it's raised on land, study finds


Sometimes a fish out of water really can do better on land! Scientists studying a strange fish called a bichir from riverbanks in Africa have found that when they raise this fish in a terrestrial environment, their bodies actually change in ways that make them more successful walkers.


Related: Fish raised on land give clues to how early animals left the seas

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August 29 2014

Mouse memories 'flipped' from fearful to cheerful


By artificially activating circuits in the brain, scientists have turned negative memories into positive ones.

They gave mice bad memories of a place, then made them good - or vice versa - without returning to that place.

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August 29 2014

Scientists stake out wolves to see whether their yawns are contagious


People do it. So do chimpanzees, bonobos and baboons. Even dogs do it: They yawn when someone near them yawns. But why? Scientists believe it’s a sign that these animals are capable of feeling empathy – and a new study of wolves suggests it’s more widespread among animals than experts had realized.

Yawning in response to another yawn isn’t an emotional reaction per se, but the tendency for yawns to be contagious has been “clinically, psychologically, neurobiologically, and behaviorally linked to our capacity for empathy”.

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August 29 2014

Scientists are recording the sound of the whole planet


In a few weeks, sensors in Indiana will go online that will record, in the words of Bryan Pijanowski, every sound the Earth makes. The array of microphones, geophones, and barometric gauges will run for a year, taping everything from the songs of birds arriving in the spring to the vibrations of the continent as ocean waves pound the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They will measure earthquakes on the other side of the world and the stomping of cattle nearby, the ultrasonic whistles of bats and the barometric drop of cold fronts.

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August 29 2014

Mercury in the environment changes the way birds sing


WAYNESBORO, Virginia—Standing in the woods along the South River, Kelly Hallinger held the microphone up to capture the cacophony of songs, one at a time: the urgent, effervescent voice of the house wren; the teakettle whistle of the Carolina wren; and the sharp, shrill notes of the song sparrow.

When she got back to Williamsburg with her tape recorder, Hallinger sorted through the hours of bird songs. She turned them into digital files in the computer, then analyzed them. The differences were striking.

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August 29 2014

Songs take your brain down memory lane


Whether it's Beethoven or Eminem - everyone has a favourite song that takes them back to a point in time.

Now, US scientists have uncovered why listening to a song you like might be enjoyable but a favourite song may plunge you into nostalgia.

They have discovered that music triggers different functions of the brain, they report in the journal Scientific Reports.

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August 29 2014

The universal 'anger face': Each element makes you look physically stronger and more formidable


The next time you get really mad, take a look in the mirror. See the lowered brow, the thinned lips and the flared nostrils? That's what social scientists call the "anger face," and it appears to be part of our basic biology as humans.

Now, researchers at UC Santa Barbara and at Griffith University in Australia have identified the functional advantages that caused the specific appearance of the anger face to evolve.

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August 29 2014

How Movies Synchronize the Brains of an Audience


HOLLYWOOD, California—Picture a movie theater, packed for the opening night of a blockbuster film. Hundreds of strangers sit next to each other, transfixed. They tend to blink at the same time. Even their brain activity is, to a remarkable degree, synchronized.

It’s a slightly creepy thought. It’s also a testament to the captivating power of cinema, says Uri Hasson, a psychologist at Princeton University. At a recent event hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hasson presented his research into what happens inside people’s brains when they watch movies.

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August 29 2014

Magnetic brain stimulation treatment shown to boost memory


Memory can be boosted by using a magnetic field to stimulate part of the brain, a study has shown. The effect lasts at least 24 hours after the stimulation is given, improving the ability of volunteers to remember words linked to photos of faces.

Scientists believe the discovery could lead to new treatments for loss of memory function caused by ageing, strokes, head injuries and early Alzheimer's disease.

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August 29 2014

Ignore the IQ test: your level of intelligence is not fixed for life


We’re getting more stupid. That’s one point made in a recent article in the New Scientist, reporting on a gradual decline in IQs in developed countries such as the UK, Australia and the Netherlands. Such research feeds into a long-held fascination with testing human intelligence. Yet such debates are too focused on IQ as a life-long trait that can’t be changed. Other research is beginning to show the opposite.

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August 29 2014

3D-printed books make pictures real for blind children


TIME to get hands-on. A new project is printing Braille picture books for visually impaired children. Each page turns the pictures from the original book into raised 3D shapes alongside traditional Braille text.

"The advantage of 3D-printing is really about making one-of-a-kind objects," says Tom Yeh, who heads up the Tactile Picture Books Project at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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August 29 2014

These 3-D Printed Skeleton Keys Can Pick High-Security Locks in Seconds


One of the hairier unintended consequences of cheap 3-D printing is that any troublemaker can duplicate a key without setting foot in a hardware store. But clever lockpickers like Jos Weyers and Christian Holler already are taking that DIY key-making trick a step further: They can 3-D print a slice of plastic or metal that opens even high-security locks in seconds, without even seeing the original key.

Weyers and Holler’s trick is to 3-D print a “bump” key, which resembles a normal key but can open millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer.

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August 29 2014

Were the mystery Pacific lights caused by an 'energy bubble'?


Earlier this week a pilot and his co-pilot spotted a mysterious orange and red glow while flying over the Pacific Ocean. The strange lights baffled the pilots, with no obvious explanation available.

But a Nasa researcher has told MailOnline that he thinks the answer may lie in an 'energised bubble' in Earth's atmosphere caused by either solar wind, a powerful microwave beam or even a controversial research station in Alaska.

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August 28 2014

Schrödinger's cat caught on quantum film


Schrödinger's cat is the poster child for quantum weirdness. Now it has been immortalised in a portrait created by one of the theory's strangest consequences: quantum entanglement.

These images were generated using a cat stencil and entangled photons. The really spooky part is that the photons used to generate the image never interacted with the stencil, while the photons that illuminated the stencil were never seen by the camera.

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August 28 2014

Do we live in a 2-D hologram? New Fermilab experiment will test the nature of the universe


A unique experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory called the Holometer has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe – including whether we live in a hologram.

Much like characters on a television show would not know that their seemingly 3-D world exists only on a 2-D screen, we could be clueless that our 3-D space is just an illusion.

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August 28 2014

Water clouds tentatively detected just 7 light-years from Earth


Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth—less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to the sun. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.

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August 28 2014

Modern Research Borne on a Relic - Airships That Carry Science Into the Stratosphere


Airships are dusty relics of aviation history. Lighter-than-air vehicles conjure images of the Hindenburg, in its glory and destruction, and the Goodyear Blimp, a floating billboard that barely resembles its powerful predecessors.

But now engineers are designing sleek new airships that could streak past layers of cloud and chart a course through the thin, icy air of the stratosphere, 65,000 feet above the ground — twice the usual altitude of a jetliner.

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