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June 1 2015

NASA telescopes set limits on space-time quantum 'foam'


A team of scientists has used X-ray and gamma-ray observations of some of the most distant objects in the universe to better understand the nature of space and time. Their results set limits on the quantum nature, or "foaminess," of spacetime at extremely tiny scales.

This study combines data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope along with ground-based gamma-ray observations from the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array (VERITAS).

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June 1 2015

Mice in space develop thin skin


A study of three mice that spent 91 days on the International Space Station has found abnormalities in their skin.

This is a record stay for any animal in space; due to their short lifespan it equates to about seven "mouse years".


Alt: Mice develop thinner skin after just three months in space

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June 1 2015

Could 'Green Rust' Be A Catalyst For Martian Life?


Mars is a large enough planet that astrobiologists looking for life need to narrow the parameters of the search to those environments most conducive to habitability.

NASA's Mars Curiosity mission is exploring such a spot right now at its landing site around Gale Crater, where the rover has found extensive evidence of past water and is gathering information on methane in the atmosphere, a possible signature of microbial activity.

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June 1 2015

Similarities between aurorae on Mars and Earth


An international team of researchers has for the first time predicted the occurrence of aurorae visible to the naked eye on a planet other than Earth.

Mars' upper atmosphere may be indeed closer to Earth's than previously thought.


Related: NASA prepares to test supersonic spacecraft for Mars mission

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June 1 2015

Hints of Salty Water on Mars Raises Planetary Protection Concerns


Orbiting spacecraft of Mars have imaged over the past several years dark, finger-like features – now called "recurring slope lineae" – or RSL for Martian short-hand.

These dark flows have been observed on Mars at low and middle latitudes. RSL's are a type of feature that creep down some Martian slopes in warmer months and then fade away in cooler months. Scientists conjecture that RSL's may be seasonal flows of salty water.

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June 1 2015

Microbes can survive in meteorites if shielded from UV radiation, study says


Outer space might be the toughest environment for life, but some hearty microbes have been able to survive in it for surprising amounts of time. How long they can do so and why they are able to withstand the difficulties of space remains a topic of controversy.

Persistent strains of microbes have been discovered in spacecraft clean rooms. In 2014, Russian reports emerged of plankton surviving on the exterior of the International Space Station, a claim that NASA officials objected to for lack of evidence.

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June 1 2015

Nasa is confident about finding life on Europa in its next mission


Nasa has given details on how it hopes to find life on Jupiter's moon Europa in a mission launching in the 2020s that will seek to determine if the satellite is habitable.

It is thought that beneath Europa's icy surface there is an ocean sitting on a rocky bed punctured by hydrothermal vents that could circulate heat and nutrients.

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June 1 2015

Intelligent life: Why don't we consider plants to be smart?


Plants eavesdrop on each other and communicate with other organisms via subtle messages. So why don’t we recognise them as smart beings, ask two new books. (1, 2)

IN AN early Star Trek episode, the Enterprise is boarded by human-like aliens, with lives lived so fast that the crew can't see them. For their part, the aliens see Captain Kirk and his crew as near-static beings whose every action seems to take an age to complete.

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June 1 2015

Do you speak dog? The idea's not barking mad, say scientists


They are known as man's best friend and the British are famously dotty about them. But how can you tell if your dog is happy, lonely, anxious or sad?

The answer is in the volume, length and pitch of their bark, according to scientists who have developed a computer program that can translate woofs.

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June 1 2015

Scientists find even adults can be taught to have perfect pitch - with results lasting months


You may think you're tone-deaf, but scientists say anyone can be trained to have perfect pitch.

People who have perfect pitch can identify a note just by hearing it. But they're extremely rare - less than one in 10,000 people have the ability.

Now psychologists claim they have been able to train some adults to acquire the skill – and they say its effects last for months.

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June 1 2015

Woman comes face to face with her dead brother's transplanted face


A woman has met the man who received the face of her dead brother in a groundbreaking transplant.

Rebekah Aversano saw – and touched – the transplanted face for the first time in an emotional meeting with Richard Norris, who was severely disfigured in a shooting accident.

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June 1 2015

Uncomfortably numb: The people who feel no pain


Being unable to feel pain may sound appealing, but it would be extremely hazardous to your health. Pain is, for most of us, a very unpleasant feeling, but it serves the important evolutionary purpose of alerting us to potentially life-threatening injuries. Without it, people are more prone to hurting themselves and so, because they can be completely oblivious to serious injuries, a life without pain is often cut short.

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June 1 2015

The Many Ways Baby Talk Gives Infant Brains a Boost


Does my pwecious bab-ee want a dwink-ee? Or her blank-ee? Baby talk's vowel-heavy vocabulary and high pitch are heard in nurseries around the world. But infant-directed speech (aka “motherese” or “parentese”) isn't just child's play—it's a source of fascination for linguists who hope to understand how the lilting babble impacts learning.

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May 31 2015

Not making enough money? Check your attitude


Holding cynical beliefs about others may have a negative effect on your income according to research using survey data from the United States and Europe. The reviews looked at cynicism (as measured by responses to a questionnaire) in national surveys of Americans (1,146 and 497 participants respectively) and income level at a later date. In both studies, a high level of cynicism was associated with lower income.


Alt: Why optimists will earn nearly £2,000 a year more than cynics

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May 31 2015

Babies 'can sniff out remedies they need for healing'


Babies can automatically sniff out the remedies they need to treat pain, anxiety and depression before learning to speak, an expert in animal healing has claimed.

Caroline Ingraham discovered that animals will seek out herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort; valerian, neroli or arnica when they were suffering specific physical or behavioural conditions.

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May 31 2015

How Computers Can Teach Themselves to Recognize Cats


In June 2012, a network of 16,000 computers trained itself to recognize a cat by looking at 10 million images from YouTube videos. Today, the technique is used in everything from Google image searches to Facebook's newsfeed algorithms.

The feline recognition feat was accomplished using "deep learning," an approach to machine learning that works by exposing a computer program to a large set of raw data and having it discover more and more abstract concepts.

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May 31 2015

This awesome lamp works without batteries, electricity or sunlight


Although many of us take for granted the fact that we can simply hit a switch and be flooded with artificial light, around one billion people in the world still live without electricity. This means a lot of people are relying on dangerous and expensive kerosene lamps to provide them with light to study, work and cook after dark.

But a team of engineers from the UK has now come up with a new device called GravityLight that runs simply using the force of gravity.

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