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March 12 2015

Ancient Fossils Reveal Diversity in the Body Structure of Human Ancestors


Recently released research on human evolution has revealed that species of early human ancestors had significant differences in facial features. Now, a University of Missouri researcher and her international team of colleagues have found that these early human species also differed throughout other parts of their skeletons and had distinct body forms. The research team found 1.9 million-year-old pelvis and femur fossils of an early human ancestor in Kenya, revealing greater diversity in the human family tree than scientists previously thought.


Alt: Strange bodies of our ancestors revealed: 1.9 million-year-old pelvis suggests early humans had tiny hips and spindly legs

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March 12 2015

Early herders’ grassy route through Africa


A University of Utah study of nearly 2,000-year-old livestock teeth show that early herders from northern Africa could have traveled past Kenya’s Lake Victoria on their way to southern Africa because the area was grassy – not tsetse fly-infested bushland as previously believed.

“We studied the chemical signature of teeth in wild antelopes and domestic plant-eating animals – cows and sheep or goats – and found they all were eating a lot of grass in the Lake Victoria Basin,”.

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March 12 2015

Hunter–Gatherers Have Diverse Gut Microbes


We tend to forget that modern humanity is largely sheltered from the last vestiges of wild untamed Earth and that our way of life bears little resemblance to how our ancestors lived during 90 percent of human history. We have lost nearly all trace of these former selves—and, worse, have marginalized the few remaining humans who retain their hunter-gatherer identity. In Tanzania, tribes of wandering foragers called the Hadza, who have lived for thousands of years in the East African Rift Valley ecosystem, tell us an immense and precious story about how humans, together with their microbial evolutionary partners, are adapted to live and thrive in a complex natural environment.

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March 12 2015

Conformity Starts Young


Nobody likes a show-off. So someone with a singular skill will often hide that fact to fit in with a group. A recent study reported for the first time that this behavior begins as early as two years old.

In the study, led by a team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and published in Psychological Science, two-year-old children, chimpanzees and orangutans dropped a ball into a box divided into three sections, one of which consistently resulted in a reward (chocolate for the children; a peanut for the apes).

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March 12 2015

The rise and fall of cognitive skills


Neuroscientists find that different parts of the brain work best at different ages.

Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline. However, more recent findings, including a new study from neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suggest that the real picture is much more complex.

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March 12 2015

Could a blast of sonic waves restore memory lost to Alzheimer's disease?


Sonic waves, first used by submarines in World War II, might one day help those with Alzheimer's disease preserve or regain their ability to remember and navigate, a new study on mice suggests.

It's far from ready for use on humans, but the new research offers new possibilities for Alzheimer's therapy that involve neither drugs nor surgery. The study's authors said the same technique might help in treating other diseases that involve the abnormal buildup of proteins in the brain.

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March 12 2015

Brain-to-brain interfaces: the science of telepathy


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk a mile (or 1.6 kilometres) in somebody else’s shoes? Or have you ever tried to send a telepathic message to a partner in transit to “pick up milk on your way home”?

Recent advances in brain-computer interfaces are turning the science fantasy of transmitting thoughts directly from one brain to another into reality.

Studies published in the last two years have reported direct transmission of brain activity between two animals, between two humans and even between a human and a rat.

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March 12 2015

This world-first bionic heart works without a pulse


Australian researchers have invented a new type of bionic heart that pumps blood around the body without a pulse. Named BiVACOR, the device has been successfully implanted in a sheep, and works so well, researchers are hoping to run human trials in just three years.

Not only does the device last for up to a decade, but it’s smaller, and less susceptible to wear and tear than current artificial hearts.

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March 12 2015

Hopped-Up Particle Accelerator Poised to Venture into the Realm of Exotic Physics


When the upgraded Large Hadron Collider restarts it will be capable of energies never before achieved, potentially unveiling novel particles and opening a window on the inner workings of the universe

Physicists are getting antsy. Their most highly prized tool for studying the smallest bits of nature—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator—has been shut down since the end of 2012 for $163 million worth of upgrades. But within two months it will be back with a vengeance, colliding protons at mind-numbing energies that have never been achieved in a man-made machine.

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March 11 2015

Gamma Rays May Be Clue on Dark Matter


A small, newly discovered galaxy orbiting the Milky Way is emitting a surprising amount of electromagnetic radiation in the form of gamma rays, astronomers reported Tuesday. The finding may be the latest in a long string of cosmic false alarms, they said, or it might be that the mysterious dark matter that permeates the universe is finally showing a bit of leg.

If confirmed, the results could mean that most of the matter of the universe is in the form of as-yet-unidentified elementary particles, 20 to 100 times as heavy as a proton, that have been drifting and clumping like fog in space ever since the Big Bang.

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March 11 2015

Life beyond Earth? The best bet may be on moons, not planets


There are billions of planets in the universe that straddle the habitable zones of their stars, but the search for potential life might actually narrow down to their moons.

Many of the planets that inhabit that zone, the distance that gives planets just the right amount of heat to sustain liquid water, are actually probably gas giants like Jupiter. But they still might have rocky moons that could harbor life.

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March 11 2015

Earth-Based Radar Unveils Venus' Mysterious Surface


These days if you look toward the west after sunset you’ll see a bright star that’s the first to appear in the sky – except it’s not a star at all, but our neighboring planet Venus. Covered in a dense layer of thick clouds, Venus not only reflects a lot of sunlight but also keeps its surface well concealed from visible-light observations.


Related: Mushroom Cloud on Mars Spotted by India’s Orbiter

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March 11 2015

Blockbuster or Bust? Brain Waves May Predict Movie Success


People's brain waves may reveal which movies they like, and even predict which movies will do well at the box office, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers had 32 college students watch 18 movie trailers each; the students had electrodes placed on their scalps to measure their brain waves, a test known as electroencephalography, or EEG.

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March 11 2015

Finger-mounted reading device for the blind


Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory have built a prototype of a finger-mounted device with a built-in camera that converts written text into audio for visually impaired users. The device provides feedback—either tactile or audible—that guides the user's finger along a line of text, and the system generates the corresponding audio in real time.

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March 11 2015

One step closer to artificial photosynthesis and 'solar fuels'


Caltech scientists, inspired by a chemical process found in leaves, have developed an electrically conductive film that could help pave the way for devices capable of harnessing sunlight to split water into hydrogen fuel.

When applied to semiconducting materials such as silicon, the nickel oxide film prevents rust buildup and facilitates an important chemical process in the solar-driven production of fuels such as methane or hydrogen.

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March 11 2015

New Self-Cleaning Paint Could Put An End To Washing Your Stuff


How great would it be to own a car that cleaned itself? Or clothing that resisted even tough stains like coffee and wine? You may soon find out.

A new paint developed by researchers overseas can be applied to clothes, paper, glass, and steel and--when combined with adhesives--retains its remarkable self-cleaning properties even after it's been scuffed and scratched.

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March 11 2015

Scientists have made concrete using plastic waste


Researchers from James Cook University in Australia have created concrete that's reinforced by plastic waste, rather than steel. The technique, which is a first in Australia, will greatly reduce the environmental impact of concrete, and we can't help but wonder why we're not doing this already.

“Using recycled plastic, we were able to get more than a 90 percent saving on CO2 emissions and fossil fuel usage compared to using the traditional steel mesh reinforcing"

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