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May 24 2015

Electronic diet pill tricks you into thinking you're full


A company have developed an electronic pill that convinces the stomach it is full.

When swallowed, the pill, designed by MelCap Systems, activates an external magnet to position it in a specific spot in the stomach, either near the lower esophagus or vagus nerve - one of two nerves that extend from the brain to the abdomen.


Alt: Electronic pill that helps you slim by tricking your tummy

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May 24 2015

Game over for joysticks? VR headset lets players interact with characters using just their EYES


Gamers could soon be dropping their joysticks and pushing their mouse to one side as eye-control becomes the latest way to play games.

Using the movement of the head and eyes, gamers using the Fove virtual reality device will be able to control games with the blink of an eye.

By making eye contact with virtual characters possible, gamers will also be able to use expressions and emotions to communicate and even influence actions.

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May 24 2015

VR Avatars Mimic Users' Facial Expressions


Virtual reality avatars just got more personal. Now, they can imitate a computer user’s facial expressions when they laugh, smile or even frown and interact with other players’ avatars.

Researchers at the University of Southern California enlisted the help of the Oculus Rift headset for 3-D gaming to create sensors that can detect a person’s facial expressions and replicate them in virtual reality in almost real-time.

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May 24 2015

New 'deep learning' technique enables robot mastery of skills via trial and error


UC Berkeley researchers have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence.

They demonstrated their technique, a type of reinforcement learning, by having a robot complete various tasks—putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more—without pre-programmed details about its surroundings.

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May 24 2015

Watch: Man controls a robotic arm with his thoughts


The day Erik Sorto reached out to grab himself an ice cold beer was a major step forward for brain science.

Sorto is quadriplegic and has been unable to move his own limbs since a bullet wound severed his spinal cord 12 years ago.

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May 24 2015

Shape-shifting plastic developed


Not all plastics are created equal. Malleable thermoplastics can be easily melted and reused in products such as food containers. Other plastics, called thermosets, are essentially stuck in their final form because of cross-linking chemical bonds that give them their strength for applications such as golf balls and car tires.

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May 24 2015

Newly Created Fungus Is Part Human, Part Yeast


A living yeast that is part human and part fungus has been engineered by scientists in a feat that shows how, despite a billion years of evolution separating humans from yeast, the two species share hundreds of genes in common.

Those genes remain, in part, from the last common ancestor of humans and yeast.


Alt: Partly human yeast show a common ancestor's lasting legacy

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May 24 2015

From chicken to dinosaur: Scientists experimentally 'reverse evolution' of perching toe


A unique adaptation in the foot of birds is the presence of a thumb-like opposable toe, which allows them to grasp and perch. However, in their dinosaur ancestors, this toe was small and non- opposable, and did not even touch the ground, resembling the dewclaws of dogs and cats. Remarkably, the embryonic development of birds provides a parallel of this evolutionary history: The toe starts out like their dinosaur ancestors, but then its base (the metatarsal) becomes twisted, making it opposable.

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May 24 2015

Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones


Many animals feed on seeds, acorns or nuts. The common feature of these are that they have shells and there is no direct way to know what's inside. How do the animals know how much and what quality of food is hidden inside? A simple solution would be to break the shells, which often takes time and effort -- it would be a big disappointment to know that it's rotten or bad after the hard effort of opening the nuts!

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May 24 2015

Lowly 'new girl' chimps form stronger female bonds


Low-ranking "new girl" chimpanzees seek out other gal pals with similar status, finds a new study of social relationships in the wild apes.

The study is available online and is scheduled to appear in the July 2015 issue of the journal Animal Behaviour.

Unlike most primates, female chimps are loners compared to males. "They spend about half their time alone or with dependent kids," said Duke University research scientist Steffen Foerster, who co-authored the study.

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May 24 2015

Animals are now legally recognised as 'sentient' beings in New Zealand


The New Zealand Government has formally recognised animals as 'sentient' beings by amending animal welfare legislation.

The Act stipulates that it is now necessary to 'recognise animals as sentient' and that owners must ‘attend properly to the welfare of those animals'.


Related: Japan's Zoos, Aquariums To Ditch Taiji Dolphin Hunt

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May 24 2015

Bacteria cooperate to repair damaged siblings


A certain type of soil bacteria can use their social behavior of outer membrane exchange to repair damaged cells and improve the fitness of the bacteria population as a whole, new research demonstrates. This is the first evidence that a bacterium can use cell-content sharing to repair damaged siblings, the authors say.

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May 23 2015

Global ocean trawl reveals plethora of new lifeforms


A team of researchers who spent three and a half years on a schooner fishing for microscopic creatures in the world’s oceans have reported the initial results of their survey — revealing a rich, diverse array of planktonic life.

The haul, details of which are analysed in five papers published today in the journal Science1–5, includes a catalogue of more than 40 million microbial genes — most of which were not previously known — as well as some 5,000 genetic types of virus, and an estimated 150,000 kinds of eukaryote (complex cells), many more than the 11,000 types of marine eukaryotic plankton already known.

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May 23 2015

Two sides of supernova origin revealed


Thermonuclear supernovae can be caused by two different processes, confirm scientists.

The findings, published in separate papers in this week's Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about the origins of these stellar explosions, and how they are used to measure cosmic distances across the universe.

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May 23 2015

NASA Discovers A Super-Distant Galaxy That's 300 Trillion Times Brighter Than The Sun


Talk about brilliant! NASA says it has discovered the brightest galaxy ever seen--a super-distant collection of stars that shines with the intensity of more than 300 trillion suns.

The record-setting galaxy lies some 12.5 billion light-years from Earth and is an example of a new class of celestial objects known as extremely luminous infrared galaxies (ELIRGs).

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May 23 2015

Vesta has no moons – is it unlucky or did it eat them?


The biggest asteroids walk alone. A decades-long search for moons orbiting Vesta, the second-heaviest asteroid in the main belt, has finally come up empty, raising questions about how such massive rocks remain loners.

Nearly 100 main-belt asteroids have satellites, and most of them were found without a dedicated search. But although we have searched for moons around Vesta since 1987, using ground-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope, none has turned up.

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May 23 2015

Ceres Bright Spots Sharpen But Questions Remain


The latest views of Ceres’ enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it’s obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we’ll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of white dots. Still, there are hints of interesting things going on here.

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