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October 15 2014

How the fruit fly could help us sniff out drugs and bombs


A fly's sense of smell could be used in new technology to detect drugs and bombs, new University of Sussex research has found.

Brain scientist Professor Thomas Nowotny was surprised to find that the 'nose' of fruit flies can identify odours from illicit drugs and explosive substances almost as accurately as wine odour, which the insects are naturally attracted to because it smells like their favourite food, fermenting fruit.

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October 15 2014

Lovely grub—are insects the future of food?


Officials at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) became interested in the role of insects in food security about a decade ago, after documenting the significant part that insects play in Central African diets. Since then, the FAO has been commissioning studies, issuing reports, and arranging small meetings on eating insects. The gathering in Ede, jointly organized by the FAO and Wageningen University and Research Center, is the culmination of all these efforts—the first major international conference to bring together entomologists, entrepreneurs, nutritionists, chefs, psychologists, and government officials. They are here to discuss how to expand the use of insects as food and feed, particularly in the Western world.

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October 15 2014

Fly genome could help us improve health and our environment


The house fly might be a worldwide pest, but its genome will provide information that could improve our lives. From insights into pathogen immunity, to pest control and decomposing waste, the 691 Mb genome has been sequenced and analyzed by a global consortium of scientists, and is published in the open access journal Genome Biology.

The genome highlights detoxification and immune system genes that are unique to the insect, and could be subjects of further study to help humans deal with toxic and disease causing environments.

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October 15 2014

Sea floors host surprise methane-munching microbes


Carbonate rocks near methane seeps in the sea floor are home to thriving ecosystems of microbes that consume that greenhouse gas, suggests research published in Nature Communications

“This is a niche that has been completely unaccounted for,” says Samantha Joye, a microbial geochemist at the University of Georgia in Athens who was not involved in the study.

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October 15 2014

Dinosaurs Were Heavy, Wet Breathers


The first ever reconstruction of how dinosaurs breathed finds that these long-extinct animals used each heavy, mucous-moistened breath to smell their surroundings and to cool their brains.

The study, published in the Anatomical Record, helps to explain why most non-avian dinosaurs had such long snouts. It also adds another dimension of life to these prehistoric animals, the last of which took its final breath around 65 million years ago.

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October 15 2014

Ancient boy-racers: Discovery of Iron Age chariot proves our ancestors loved a Sunday drive or two


Our addiction to cars – or at least nifty runabouts – may be more deeply rooted in the national character than we think.

Recent archaeological research has revealed how Iron Age Britons so loved their family chariots that sometimes they even donated them to the gods.


Alt: Archaeologists in England unearth 'find of a lifetime'

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October 15 2014

Viking treasure haul unearthed in Scotland


A haul of Viking treasure has been unearthed from a field in south west Scotland by an amateur using a metal detector.

Derek McLennan, a retired businessman from Ayrshire, made the find in Dumfriesshire in September.

In total, more than 100 items were recovered, including armbands, a cross and brooches.

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October 15 2014

Fossilized Bladder Stone Found in Medieval Cemetery


It may look innocuous now, but this little stone may have killed someone 700 years ago.

The rough, kidney-shaped object was found in a medieval cemetery in Poland, and a new analysis has revealed it is actually a rather large bladder stone.

The stone was discovered in Gda&#324;sk, a city on the Baltic coast of northern Poland, where archaeological excavations in 2001 uncovered a medieval burial ground that contained a thousand graves.

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October 14 2014

Storm God Worship: Ancient Cult Complex Discovered in Israel


A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.

While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, researchers discovered three connected cups, fragments of facemasks, massive jars that are almost as big as a person and burnt animal bones that may indicate sacrificial rituals.

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October 14 2014

New Subatomic Particle Offers Strong Insights


A newly discovered subatomic particle will provide opportunities to learn about how the most powerful of nature's forces operates.

It takes a big team to investigate the very small. In the case of the new meson Ds3*(2860),- that meant 800 authors on the papers in Physical Review Letters and Physical Review D announcing its discovery.

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October 14 2014

The Strange and Radical New World of 3-D Printed Body Parts


A few years ago, if a horrific infection ate your jawbone, doctors had to build makeshift mandibles from your fibula, a process that left you sliced open as surgeons painstakingly whittled away at replacement bone. Yech.

Today they can just hit Control-P: Based on MRI and CT scans of your busted-up body parts, hyperspecialized 3-D printers produce custom replacements, no sculpture skills required. As biomedical engineer Scott Hollister says: “We don't all have to be Michelangelos anymore.”.

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October 14 2014

Breakthrough batteries last 20 years, charge 70 percent in two minutes


Over the years, consumer electronics have improved in almost every way, becoming thinner, lighter, and more pixel-packed, all while increasing exponentially in performance. But beating at the heart of many mobile devices and even electric cars is a technology that hasn’t kept up with the rapid pace of innovation: batteries. Specifically, lithium-ion batteries.

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October 14 2014

Millions of voiceprints quietly being harvested


Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice.

Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords.

"We sometimes call it the invisible biometric,".

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October 14 2014

Learn to Make Stone-Age Tools to Help Study the Origins of Language


Our ancestors started making tools at around the same time they learned to speak, and some scientists believe that the two skills share the same neurological pathways. To test this hypothesis, a team of researchers is going to monitor the brains of modern people as they learn how to make Stone Age-style hand axes.

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October 14 2014

Smell Turns Up in Unexpected Places


Smell is one of the oldest human faculties, yet it was one of the last to be understood by scientists. It was not until the early 1990s that biologists first described the inner workings of olfactory receptors — the chemical sensors in our noses — in a discovery that won a Nobel Prize.

Since then, the plot has thickened. Over the last decade or so, scientists have discovered that odor receptors are not solely confined to the nose, but found throughout body — in the liver, the heart, the kidneys and even sperm — where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions.

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October 14 2014

Study finds crocodiles are sophisticated hunters


Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting.

New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

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October 14 2014

How to hide like an octopus


Cephalopods, which include octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, are among nature’s most skillful camouflage artists, able to change both the color and texture of their skin within seconds to blend into their surroundings — a capability that engineers have long struggled to duplicate in synthetic materials. Now a team of researchers has come closer than ever to achieving that goal, creating a flexible material that can change its color or fluorescence and its texture at the same time, on demand, by remote control.

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