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July 23 2014

Do airplanes evolve like birds?


The development of passenger aircraft over the past century mirrors the evolution of flying animals, and shows that evolution is not just a biological phenomenon, according to a paper published today in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Adrian Bejan, a mechanical engineer at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, argues that evolution is a physical phenomenon, with changes in animals driven by physical laws. In the case of birds, the factors include aerodynamics.

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July 23 2014

China plans super collider


For decades, Europe and the United States have led the way when it comes to high-energy particle colliders. But a proposal by China that is quietly gathering momentum has raised the possibility that the country could soon position itself at the forefront of particle physics.

Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, are planning to build a ‘Higgs factory’ by 2028 — a 52-kilometre underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons.

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July 23 2014

Driverless cars could change everything


For now, it seems like a novelty - cars that can operate independently of human control, safely cruising down streets thanks to an array of sensors and pinpoint GPS navigation.

But if the technology avoids getting crushed by government regulators and product liability lawsuits, it could prompt a cultural shift similar to the early 20th century move away from horses as the primary means of transportation.

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July 23 2014

Scientists cut HIV directly out of infected human genome using molecular tools


Scientists have taken an “important step” towards a permanent cure for AIDS by using specially designed enzymes to physically cut the HIV virus out of an infected human genome.

The breakthrough research by a team of scientists from Temple University School of Medicine uses a pair of molecular tools to achieve its goal: a “targeting strand” of RNA which locates the virus and a “DNA snipping” enzyme that removes it. The virus-free cell then repairs itself.

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July 23 2014

Hallucinatory 'voices' shaped by local culture


Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful.


Related: DNA hope on schizophrenia: Research breakthrough points at over 100 genes

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July 23 2014

Mammoth and Mastodon Behavior was less roam, more stay at home


According to research conducted by the University of Cincinnati, the fuzzy relatives of modern-day elephants liked living in Greater Cincinnati long before it became the trendy hot spot it is today- at the end of the last ice age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area to such an extent that they probably resided there year round and were not the nomadic migrants as previously thought.

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July 23 2014

Elephants Can Outsniff Rats and Dogs


Elephants are known for their impressively long trunks, but perhaps less well known is the large number of genes that code for their sense smell.

In a study of 13 mammals, African elephants were found to be superior sniffers, possessing the largest number of genes associated with smell — five times as many as humans and more than twice that of dogs.

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July 23 2014

A high-fat diet could impede sense of smell, scientists claim


Dining on a diet of fatty foods reduces our ability to smell, scientists have claimed.

Researchers from Florida State University say they have found a demonstrable link between a bad diet and “major structural and functional changes in the olfactory system, which gives us our sense of smell.”

The team says it has uncovered links between obesity and bodily functions that are not usually married with one another.

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July 23 2014

Alcohol improves your sense of smell – in moderation


How do you smell after a drink? Quite well, it turns out. A modest amount of alcohol boosts your sense of smell.

It is well known that we can improve our sense of smell through practice. But a few people have also experienced a boost after drug use or brain damage. This suggests our sensitivity to smell may be damped by some sort of inhibition in the brain, which can be lifted under some circumstances, says Yaara Endevelt of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

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July 23 2014

Is Climate Change Ruining Wine Corks?


Wine lovers might treasure the oaky, full-bodied taste of a cabernet sauvignon or the light and fruity aroma of a pinot grigio. But if the bottle is stopped with a low-quality cork, they can kiss that meticulously cultivated flavor goodbye.

Many people may only worry about corks when it's time to pop the Champagne, but some experts are worried about wine cork quality, which has been mysteriously in decline for almost 20 years.

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July 23 2014

Antarctic lakes theory dries up


Antarctica is the driest continent on Earth, and always has been, with new research showing the previous "mega-lake theory" holds no water.

Researchers from The University of Queensland have refuted previous theories that the Victoria Valley in Antarctica's Trans-Antarctic Mountains was filled with a mega glacial lake between 20,000 and 8000 years ago.

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July 23 2014

Randall Carlson: My Journey to Catastrophism


“The truth of the matter is that our understanding of climate change is in its infancy and to claim otherwise is a dangerous delusion.”

“The evidence proving the reality of mighty catastrophes is scattered all about the face of the Earth, it is everywhere about us. To one who can read the geological record the story revealed is one of repeated world destructions, catastrophe layered upon catastrophe, one world built upon and out of the wreckage of former worlds. The sobering thing to ponder is that the wreckage of the previous world, the one whose destruction and disappearance from the planetary stage cleared the way for the commencement of the present age, is only 10,000 years old...

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July 23 2014

Exploring the Ancient Cities - and Minds - of South America


When it comes to ancient pyramids, the massive structures erected by the Egyptians on the Giza Plateau receive much of the focus. But on the other side of the world, at Caral in Peru, lies another pyramid complex of similar antiquity, constructed by the Norte Chico people ca. 2600-2000 BCE. The fact that people on both sides of the planet happened to build pyramids at the same time in history is, we are told, a coincidence...your mileage may vary!

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July 22 2014

70,000 year-old African settlement unearthed


During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Pozna&#324;, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.

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July 22 2014

Romanian cave holds some of the oldest human footprints


Human footprints found in Romania’s Ciur-Izbuc Cave represent the oldest such impressions in Europe, and perhaps the world, researchers say.

About 400 footprints were first discovered in the cave in 1965. Scientists initially attributed the impressions to a man, woman and child who lived 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. But radiocarbon measurements of two cave bear bones excavated just below the footprints now indicate that Homo sapiens made these tracks around 36,500 years ago.

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July 22 2014

Listen to the Oldest Song in the World: A Sumerian Hymn Written 3,400 Years Ago


In the early 1950s, archaeologists unearthed several clay tablets from the 14th century B.C.E.. Found, WFMU tells us, “in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit,” these tablets “contained cuneiform signs in the hurrian language,” which turned out to be the oldest known piece of music ever discovered, a 3,400 year-old cult hymn. Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, professor of Assyriology at the University of California, produced the interpretation above in 1972.

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July 22 2014

Babylonian Neurology and Psychiatry


A fascinating little paper in Brain examines Neurology and psychiatry in Babylon. It’s a collaboration by British neurologist Edward H. Reynolds and Assyriologist James V. Kinnier Wilson.

The sources they discuss are almost 4,000 years old, dating to the Old Babylonian Dynasty of 1894 – 1595 BC. Writing in cuneiform script impressed into clay tablets, the Babylonians left records that (unlike paper) were inherently durable, so many of them have survived.

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