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April 25 2015

Get rid of the song stuck in your head with chewing gum, scientists say


The next time you have a song stuck in your head, reach for the chewing gum. The very act of grinding it around your mouth might be enough to kick that annoying earworm out of your brain, scientists have claimed.

Songs are less likely to re-appear in your head if you’re chewing, according to a study at the University of Reading.

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April 25 2015

Study finds we think better on our feet, literally


A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, were based on a study of almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year.

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April 25 2015

Haptic Glove Lets Gamers Feel the Virtual World


With the imminent arrival of the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus, the era of virtual reality gaming is nearly upon is. Video game industry watchers expect the arrival of viable VR headsets to be the biggest revolution in gaming since the first generation of console machines some 40 years ago.

No matter how sophisticated, though, virtual reality headsets are still limited to the audio-visual experience. As such, several commercial and research groups are hoping to augment headsets by designing force feedback peripherals that replicate the sense of touch in the realm of virtual realitys.

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April 25 2015

New techniques for eye-gaze tracking could change computer interaction


Mice, and now touchscreens, have become a daily part of our lives in the way we interact with computers. But what about people who lack the ability to use a mouse or touchscreen? Or situations where these would be impractical or outright dangerous?

Many researchers have explored eye-gaze tracking as a potential control mechanism. These tracking mechanisms have become sophisticated and small enough that they currently feature in devices such as smartphones and tablets.

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April 25 2015

A leap for 'artificial leaf': Generating power by breaking up water molecules


As an idea, the notion of an "artificial leaf" was always meant to be simple: Could scientists, using a handful of relatively cheap materials, harness the power of light to generate two powerful fuels—hydrogen and oxygen—by breaking apart water molecules?

In practice, however, the idea faced a number of hurdles, including how to pattern the catalysts on silicon that would power the reaction. But that could soon change, says Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy Daniel Nocera.

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April 25 2015

Japan has floating solar power plants in Hyogo Prefecture


Kyocera is in the news this month. Two floating solar power plants in two reservoirs in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, are complete. This is a joint venture. The two players are Kyocera and Century Tokyo Leasing, which is in the business of equipment leasing. Construction started last year in September. They use 255-watt Kyocera modules, 11,256 modules in total.

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April 25 2015

Tesla's New Battery Could Solve One of Solar Power's Biggest Problems


So far, specific details are thin on the new battery designed for home use that Tesla’s announcing next week. But just based on what we do know, it’s a pretty big deal. The quest for a good battery that can store home-generated power is kind of like the holy grail for a renewable energy future. This one product might change everything.

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April 25 2015

These shoes expand five sizes so kids don't grow out of them


An entrepreneur has engineered a sandal, called The Shoe That Grows, that expands with a child in order to prevent them from growing out of them so quickly. It's an incredible idea no matter where you live, but it's particularly important in countries such as Kenya, where many families can't afford to replace shoes every couple of months.

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April 25 2015

A 250-Year-Old Clock Claimed A World Record (And Vindicated Its Maker)


Shortly before his death in 1776, eccentric British clock-maker John Harrison claimed to have designed the ‘perfect’ clock, one that would keep time flawlessly. His rivals and peers wrote it off as the boastings of a bitter, 80-year-old failure — but in modern-day light, Harrison has finally been proved right.

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April 25 2015

Vast replica recreates prehistoric Chauvet cave


In the Ardeche gorge in southern France lies one of the most important prehistoric sites ever discovered.

It's locked away behind a thick metal door, hidden halfway up a towering limestone cliff-face.

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April 24 2015

Zahi Hawass vs Graham Hancock -- the April 2015 "debate" debacle


From Graham Hancock:

Self-styled "world's most famous Egyptologist" Zahi Hawass had agreed to participate with me on 22 April 2015 in what was billed and advertised as "the first open debate between the representatives of two completely different versions of history." Each of us was to give a one-hour presentation, followed by a debate in which the audience would join in with questions. In the event the debate never happened. Zahi refused to accept a coin-toss to decide the speaking order and insisted that I speak first. I agreed to this, despite the fact that the first speaker is at a slight disadvantage in any debate since he does not have the opportunity to hear the other speaker's presentation before giving his own.

Before most of the audience had arrived, I was checking the focus on the slides in my PowerPoint presentation prior to giving my talk and I put up on the screen an image which shows the Orion/Pyramids correlation and the Sphinx/Leo correlation at Giza in the epoch of 10,500 BC. Rightly and properly since the Orion correlation is Robert Bauval's discovery I included a portrait of Robert Bauval in the slide. As soon as Zahi saw Robert's image he became furiously angry, shouted at me, made insulting and demeaning comments about Robert, and told me that if I dared to mention a single word about Robert in my talk he would walk out and refuse to debate me. I explained that the alternative view of history that I was on stage to represent could not exclude the Orion correlation and therefore could not exclude Robert Bauval. At that, again shouting, Zahi marched out of the debating room. Frantic negotiations then took place off stage between the conference organisers and Zahi. Finally Zahi agreed to return and give his talk and answer questions from the audience, but he refused absolutely to hear or see my talk, or to engage in any debate with me. I therefore gave my talk to the audience without Zahi present (he sat in a room outside the conference hall while I spoke). When I had finished I answered questions from the audience. Then Zahi entered, gave his talk, answered questions from the audience and left.

One of the few members of the audience who had arrived early did manage to record part of the scene of Zahi storming out of the conference room -- see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ziu2ygE_Wc.

Likewise during Zahi's Q&A he was asked a question about the 11,600-year-old megalithic site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey and whether it had any impact on his assessment of the disputed age of the megalithic Great Sphinx of Giza (which I and my colleagues have long argued might be of similar antiquity). Unfortunately it appeared that Zahi was completely ignorant of the existence or implications of Gobekli Tepe, arguably the most important archaeological site in the world, so he was unable to answer the question which he passed on to the moderator who also happened to be an Egyptologist. I did at that point have a brief opportunity to stand up and give my own point of view on Gobekli Tepe and on its implications for the age of the Sphinx -- see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4NnCAZcxHg

I had high hopes for this debate -- that it might bring about some sort of civil dialogue between alternative and mainstream views of history but I was sadly disappointed. Here is a link to a post I made on Facebook 24 hours before the "debate" which will help to put what happened on 22 April into context.

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April 24 2015

Fossils Suggest Humans Played Role in Neanderthals' End


Ancient teeth from Italy suggest that the arrival of modern humans in Western Europe coincided with the demise of Neanderthals there, researchers said.

This finding suggests that modern humans may have caused Neanderthals to go extinct, either directly or indirectly, the scientists added.

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April 24 2015

Did Neanderthals live in same cave as badgers and bears?


Modern humans have developed a reputation for being somewhat destructive and keen to separate themselves from the rest of the animal kingdom.

However, a recent excavation of a cave in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain is suggesting our ancient cousins, the Neanderthals, were more in tune with nature.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence that Neanderthals regularly inhabited the Cave of Llenes, near Senterada in Catalonia, around 200,000 years ago but were not alone.

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April 24 2015

Lonely end for the world's last woolly mammoths


The most complete genetic information assembled on woolly mammoths is providing insight into their demise, revealing they suffered two population crashes before a final, severely inbred group succumbed on an Arctic Ocean island.

Scientists unveiled the first two full genomes of these mighty elephant relatives emblematic of the Ice Age, showing they experienced an extensive loss of genetic diversity before perishing roughly 4,000 years ago.

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April 24 2015

Keeping A Secret 'Physically' Weighs You Down, According To Science


Keeping a secret is a bigger burden than you might imagine.

In fact, new research suggests that keeping a secret makes you feel weighed down -- literally -- and even limits your ability to get things done.

"Spending effort to keep your secret leads you to feel [like] you have less effort and energy for other tasks, and so they seem more challenging and forbidding,".

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April 24 2015

Thoughts Can Fuel Some Deadly Brain Cancers


The simple act of thinking can accelerate the growth of many brain tumors.

That's the conclusion of a paper in Cell published Thursday that showed how activity in the cerebral cortex affected high-grade gliomas, which represent about 80 percent of all malignant brain tumors in people.

"This tumor is utilizing the core function of the brain, thinking, to promote its own growth," says Michelle Monje, a researcher and neurologist at Stanford who is the paper's senior author.

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April 24 2015

What Does It Feel Like to Be Invisible?


Volunteers in Sweden were tricked into thinking their bodies had vanished, and the "superpower" seemed to ease social fears

What would it feel like to be, in some sense, a brain without a body? Now a handful of people in Sweden can tell you.

These invisible people didn’t actually disappear.

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