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September 16 2014

Schizophrenia not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders


New research shows that schizophrenia isn’t a single disease but a group of eight genetically distinct disorders, each with its own set of symptoms. The finding could be a first step toward improved diagnosis and treatment for the debilitating psychiatric illness.

The research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is reported online Sept. 15 in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

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September 16 2014

Here's the Hallucination You (and Everyone Else) Have Experienced


Think you've never hallucinated? You're wrong. Almost every modern person in a developed country has had this hallucination - some populations have it so predictably that within a few months, ninety-five percent experience it.

Hallucinations are far more common than most people suppose. People suppose they happen very rarely because we associate the word "hallucination" with dancing pink elephants or ghostly women in white. In reality, hallucinations are not dramatic scenes in which people wail, "Is this a dagger I see before me?" Instead they are more like, "Is that a black cat in the room? Oh, no, it's just a shadow.".

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September 16 2014

Human 'language gene' makes mice smarter


It was named the language gene before we really understood what it did. Now mice given the human version of the FOXP2 gene are shedding light on how speech evolved in early humans.

Mice with the gene seem to be better at learning to do a task automatically or unconsciously – something we do when we learn a new route to work, for example.


Related: Mice given human brain gene learned tasks faster : study

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September 16 2014

Synthetic female decoys might be the next big thing in male insect zapping


Decoys successfully attract and kill emerald ash borer beetles, study finds

When trying to curb the the spread of invasive insect species, one of the most important steps is actually being able to catch them. Typical traps, such as those use to catch the tree-ravaging emerald ash borer, use scents such as pheromones to attract males (males are easier to catch because of their mating behavior, which consists of following and landing on females). But scent-based traps aren't ideal.

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September 16 2014

Do Dogs Fall for Magic Tricks?


When Steve Macknik and I talk to audiences about our research on magic and neuroscience, one question that often comes up during Q&A is whether animals can experience magic. There is no easy answer: animals can certainly be deceived, and numerous research studies show that virtually every species, from bower birds to bees, is susceptible to illusions. But do animals feel wonderment, awe, or sense that they are experiencing the impossible?

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September 16 2014

MIT's Robotic Cheetah Can Now Run And Jump While Untethered


Well, we knew it had to happen someday. A DARPA-funded robotic cheetah has been released into the wild, so to speak. A new algorithm developed by MIT researchers now allows their quadruped to run and jump — while untethered — across a field of grass.

The Pentagon, in an effort to investigate technologies that allow machines to traverse terrain in unique ways (well, at least that's what they tell us), has been funding (via DARPA) the development of a robotic cheetah.

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September 16 2014

Invisibility cloaks closer thanks to 'digital metamaterials'


The concept of "digital metamaterials" – a simple way of designing metamaterials with bizarre optical properties that could hasten the development of devices such as invisibility cloaks and superlenses – is reported in a paper published today in Nature Materials.

Metamaterials are artificially engineered out of microscopic subunits – such as glass, metal or plastic – arranged in a repeating fashion. Once assembled, these metamaterials possess unique properties, such as interacting with light in unusual ways, which aren't often seen in natural materials.

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September 16 2014

What Was That Strange Streak Of Light In The Bay Area Sky Friday Morning?


People across the Bay Area reported seeing a streak of light shoot across the sky Friday around 6 a.m.

About 30 residents saw a white light with fog or smoke billowing out.

“I am used to seeing planes early in the morning with lights, but this was different,” said one bystander. “This had something coming out of it, it wasn’t just the light. I could see it spraying something.”.

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September 16 2014

Saturn's Weird Fast-Changing Ring Baffles Scientists


One of Saturn's iconic rings looks much different today than it did just a few decades ago, and scientists aren't sure why.

NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft spotted many bright clumps in Saturn's F ring when they flew by the gas giant in the early 1980s. But observations made by the space agency's Cassini probe from 2004 to 2010 reveal relatively few of the features, a new study reports.

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September 16 2014

Aliens on MOONS? Hunting for ET on planets' satellites may be our best chance at first contact


It’s now almost 20 years since the first alien planet was discovered in orbit around a sun-like star.

Since then huge advances have led to the discovery of more than a thousand extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, which are now being catalogued.

But in the hunt for life in the universe, some experts have begun to suggest that our best bet might not be the planets themselves but habitable moons in their vicinity.

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September 16 2014

Planets with oddball orbits like Mercury could host life


Mercury has an oddball orbit—it takes longer for it to rotate on its axis and complete a day than it takes to orbit the sun and complete a year. Now, researchers suggest photosynthesis could take place on an alien planet with a similarly bizarre orbit, potentially helping support complex life.

However, the scientists noted that the threat of prolonged periods of darkness and cold on these planets would present significant challenges to life, and could even potentially freeze their atmospheres. They detailed their findings in the International Journal of Astrobiology.

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September 15 2014

Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars


A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists.

The finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition of the journal Astrobiology.

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September 15 2014

Water-splitter could make hydrogen fuel on Mars


Making fuel on site for a return trip to Mars may be a step closer. A cunning way to split water into oxygen and hydrogen in two distinct steps could be a boon to both astronauts and future Earthlings, enabling them to use renewable energy sources for making hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen fuel cells can power vehicles ranging from cars to submarines and rockets.

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September 15 2014

Quantum Mechanics Saves Grandfathers From Time Travelers


Mention time travel at a nerd party, and other guests will immediately respond with a grim conundrum: What happens if a time traveler goes back in time and kills one of his ancestors? This is the “Grandfather Paradox.” In a simulated environment, a team of mathematicians tested the paradox, and made a remarkable discovery: In time travel simulations, at least, history repeats itself.

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September 15 2014

Scientists Capture The Sound Of A Single Atom, And Apparently It's A 'D-Note'


What does an atom sound like? Apparently it's a "D-note."

That's according to scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, who have revealed in a new study that they've captured the sound of a single atom.

"We have opened a new door into the quantum world by talking and listening to atoms".

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September 15 2014

Let me ask you this: 'Why aren't there smells in dreams?'


A research study published in 1896 looked at the prevalence of different sensory experiences in dreams. It found the following occurrence frequency (percent of dreams featuring each sense):

Visual - 85%
Auditory - 69%
Touch - 11%
Smell - 7%
Taste - 6%

So visual experience dominates dreaming, while touch, smell, and taste are quite low. But why? No one has actually tried to find out why experimentally. But here are some possible reasons based on what is known about the brain.

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September 15 2014

Spinach May Aid Weight Loss By Curbing Cravings


Popeye's energy source, spinach, can decrease cravings and aid weight loss, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden found that a spinach extract containing green leaf membranes called thylakoids decreases hedonic hunger with up to 95 percent -- and increases weight loss with 43 percent.

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