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July 25 2014

Space Junk Is Becoming a Serious Security Threat


Space debris is a serious problem, particularly in the heavily used Low Earth Orbits (LEO). As of 2013, NASA estimated a population of 500,000 pieces of space debris (between 1 and 10 cm in diameter); some 21,000 pieces of which are larger than 10 cm. Unfortunately, NASA estimates that there are more than 100 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm that cannot be seen.

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July 25 2014

Our Alien DNA


A paper published last year in Icarus, the prestigious journal of planetary science, asked if it was possible that terrestrial life on Earth had been 'seeded' from beyond the Earth - and if so, does the building block of that life, DNA, contain any sort of message from our alien creators. Using mathematics, the authors of the paper - "The "Wow! signal" of the terrestrial genetic code" - looked for evidence of a statistically strong 'informational' signal in the genetic code, with surprising results.

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July 25 2014

Less than 10% of human DNA has functional role, claim scientists


More than 90% of human DNA is doing nothing very useful, and large stretches may be no more than biological baggage that has built up over years of evolution, Oxford researchers claim.

The scientists arrived at the figure after comparing the human genome with the genetic makeup of other mammals, ranging from dogs and mice to rhinos and horses.

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July 25 2014

All You Need To Know About the 10% Brain Myth, in 60 Seconds


The new Luc Besson movie Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, opens in theatres countrywide tomorrow. It’s based on the immortal myth that we use only 10 percent of our brains. Johansson’s character is injected with drugs that allow her to access 100 percent of her brain capacity. She subsequently gains the ability to learn Chinese in an instant, beat up bad guys, and throw cars with her mind (among other new talents). Morgan Freeman plays neuroscientist Professor Norman, who’s built his career around the 10 percent claim.

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July 25 2014

Smarter than a first-grader? Crows can perform as well as 7- to 10-year-olds on displacement tasks


In Aesop's fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over the pitcher, the bird drops pebbles into it -- one at a time -- until the water level rises enough for him to drink his fill. New research demonstrates the birds' intellectual prowess may be more fact than fiction.

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July 25 2014

Monkeys use researchers 'as human shields' to avoid leopards and big cats in the wild


The samango monkeys of South Africa usually have a good reason not to stray too far from the forest. Although they spend much of their time loping through the trees they know to keep within a certain range: climb too high and they're targets for eagles, too low and they could be a big cat's lunch.

However, it seems there is an exception to this behaviour - and that’s when people are around. A new study from the journal of Behavioural Ecology reports that samango monkeys under observation by scientists use the researchers as “human shields”, counting on their presence to avoid being picked off by a leopard.

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July 25 2014

Dogs feel jealous of rival pets, study finds


To legions of dog-owners, the finding will come as no surprise: it does not take much to make a dog feel jealous.

Researchers in the US studied 36 dogs and found that most were indifferent when their owners ignored them and read aloud from a children's pop-up book. But when the owners showered their attention on a stuffed dog – or even played with a bucket with a face painted on the side – the dogs' behaviour changed dramatically.

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July 25 2014

This Genius Machine Feeds Stray Dogs In Exchange For Recycled Bottles


One innovative company has created a vending machine that's dispensing help for both the environment and our furry friends.

The Turkish company Pugedon recently introduced a vending machine in Istanbul that releases food and water for the city's stray dogs in exchange for recycled plastic bottles, Big Think reported. Once someone deposits their bottle at the top, food is released at the bottom. The Pugedon Smart Recycling Boxes operate at no charge to the city, and the recycled bottles cover the cost of the food.

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July 25 2014

Kids with Pets More Likely to Avoid Meat


Kids who spend time cuddling up with Fido or Fluffy are more likely to turn their noses up at meat later in life, a new study suggests.

The reason? Those children who have formed attachments to their pets may develop empathy toward other animals, too, which can result in greater avoidance of eating meat, the researchers suggested.

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July 25 2014

Biologist warn of early stages of Earth's sixth mass extinction event


The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point. Scientists caution that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event. Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct.

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July 25 2014

The Third Machine Age Could Destroy Us


There have been one and a half machine ages already. The first began in the nineteenth century, with machines taking over manual labor. Then in the twentieth century machines began taking over mental labor (they still are). When the third age comes, says one sociologist, we're doomed.

Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has written an interesting article in response to the idea that we need robots to do "emotional labor" like caring for children and the elderly.

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July 25 2014

Alternative Fusion Technologies Heat Up


To reach one of the world's most secretive nuclear-fusion companies, visitors must wind their way through a suburban office park at the foot of the Santa Ana Mountains, just east of Irvine, California, until they pull up outside the large but unmarked headquarters of Tri Alpha Energy.

This is as close as any outsider can get without signing a non-disclosure agreement; Tri Alpha protects its trade secrets so tightly that it does not even have a website. But the fragments of information that have filtered out make it clear that the building houses one of the largest fusion experiments now operating in the United States.

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July 25 2014

U.K. grocery store to power itself on biogas generated from its own food waste


British supermarket chain Sainsbury's has announced that it plans to power one of its grocery stores using only biogas generated from its own food waste. The store in Cannock, West Midlands is approximately one mile away from one of British based Biffa's waste management systems, and will get its power from a single dedicated line.

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July 24 2014

Indian scientists have bred a mango that has no seed


Mangoes are an excellent source of calcium, vitamins A and C, antioxidants and potassium. But eating one often results in a huge mess—the seed is just too big and because of that one usually ends up with mango stains everywhere. So Indian fruit scientists came up with a solution—a sweet and juicy, seedless mango.

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July 24 2014

Crowdsourcing The Search For Alien Artifacts


As nutty as it may sound to the uninitiated, the notion of looking for alien artifacts on our own Moon may finally be gaining mainstream scientific traction.

There are good reasons to seriously consider the possibility that at some point in the Earth-Moon system’s storied 4.5 billion year-old history, an alien intelligence may have passed through our solar system; leaving physical artifacts of their visits.

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July 24 2014

Does alien life require an ocean?


Scientists searching for planets where E.T. may live have homed in on places where liquid water could exist. But a livable world may require not just water, but oceans, a new study suggests.

A team of scientists created a computer simulation of ocean circulation on a hypothetical Earth-like planet. The findings show that oceans play a vital role in establishing a habitable and stable climate, according to the study published Sunday (July 20) in the journal Astrobiology.

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July 24 2014

A new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence: targeting alien polluters


Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs?

They might, if they spew industrial pollution into the atmosphere.

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