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Showing posts from October 26, 2015

Happy #Arachtober! Spiders Take Over the Web for Halloween

Photographers and researchers from around the world are teaming up to share spectacular (and sometimes skin-crawling) photos of one of Halloween's most popular mascots: spiders. But even if they're not your favorite animals, spiders do capture the spirit of the season, and these eight-legged beauties happen to be very cooperative models, according to the folks who started Arachtober, the group devoted to sharing spider-themed photos on social media. Arachtober started in 2007 as a friendly exchange between two Flickr-using macrophotographers, Joseph Connors IV and Ashley Bradford.

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Tiny Pluto Moon Kerberos Unveiled (Photos)

Pluto's tiny satellite Kerberos has gotten its first close-up. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has beamed home photos of Kerberos captured during the probe's historic flyby of Pluto on July 14. The newly received images show that Kerberos is smaller and much brighter than researchers had expected.


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Pooped out: absence of big mammals foils ecosystem fertilization

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - You can call it the fertilization cessation, and scientists say it has had a disruptive effect on ecosystems around the world. A study unveiled on Monday showed that the extinction or precipitous population declines of large land and sea mammals starting at the end of the last Ice Age and continuing through today has deprived ecosystems of a vital source of fertilization in their dung, urine and, after death, decomposing bodies. The scientists said these large mammals including whales, mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths, rhinos, huge armadillos as well as seabirds and migrating fish like salmon played a key role in making Earth fertile by spreading nutrients across oceans, up rivers and deep inland.


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Chameleon double vision is a highly coordinated effort

Chameleons have many abilities, the most famed of which is their talent to camouflage themselves by changing color. Israeli researchers from the department of neurobiology in the University of Haifa, have recently discovered in laboratory experiments that a chameleon's eyes movements are indeed co-ordinated. "Until now, it was thought to be that chameleons and other vertebrates with lateral placed eyes cannot track two different targets at the same time, cannot divide their attention into two targets at the same time.

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Plague Began Infecting Humans Much Earlier Than Thought

The germ that causes the plague began infecting humans thousands of years earlier than scientists had previously thought. The earliest sample that had plague DNA was from Bronze Age Siberia, and dated back to 2794 B.C., and the latest specimen with plague, from early Iron Age Armenia, dated back to 951 B.C. "We were able to find genuine Yersinia pestisDNA in our samples 3,000 years earlier than what had previously been shown," said Simon Rasmussen, a lead author of the study and a bioinformatician at the Technical University of Denmark.

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Off the Deep End: Man's Drunken Lake Dive Bursts His Bladder

The injury tore a hole in the 24-year-old's bladder wall, allowing urine to leak into his abdomen, according to a new report of the man's case. Hitting the water with a full bladder was "the equivalent of throwing a water balloon on the sidewalk," said Dr. Bradley Gill, a resident in urology at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in treating the patient. The young man's alcohol consumption likely contributed to the injury, Gill told Live Science.

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Magnets Might 'Unlock' Paralyzed Arm After Stroke

People who suffer a stroke face many physical and emotional hurdles on their long road to recovery. Researchers have found that strong pulses of magnetic energy to the brain, called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), can be used as probes to identify undamaged, untapped brain regions that may be recruited to move the arm. The stimulation did not cure stroke patients of their paralysis.

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Underwater Fossil Graveyard Reveals Toll of Human-Caused Extinction

On Abaco Island, a graveyard of fossils at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole suggests that humans caused more animals to go extinct than natural changes in the climate, the researchers said. The new study, published today (Oct. 19) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that 17 species, all of them birds, disappeared from Abaco during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch. "These animals could make it through the natural changes of the ice age to the modern climate—the island getting smaller, the climate getting warmer and wetter —but the human-caused changes were too much for them," said David Steadman, an ornithologist and paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who led the study.


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Bug-Eating Plant Uses Raindrops to Capture Prey

Carnivorous pitcher plants use falling raindrops to force prey to their doom, a new study finds.


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Crocodiles Might Literally Sleep With One Eye Open

Have you heard the expression "better sleep with one eye open?" Crocodiles may take that phrase literally, according to a new study. To stay abreast of potential threats in their environment, crocs sometimes keep an eye open while snoozing, scientists found. Lots of animals close only one eye while sleeping, including birds and some aquatic mammals, said John Lesku, a research fellow at La Trobe University in Australia and one of the authors of the new study.

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Organs on Demand? 3D Printers Could Build Hearts, Arteries

Off-the-shelf 3D printers could one day help create living organs to aid in repairing the human body, researchers say. Scientists have developed a way to 3D print models of various anatomical structures, including hearts, brains, arteries and bones. Another application for this innovative technology could be food printers, reminiscent of the replicators seen on the TV show "Star Trek," the scientists added.


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Plankton poo clue could aid climate predictions

By Matthew Stock Scientists from the UK's National Oceanography Center (NOC) have set their sights on unmasking the ocean's 'twilight zone' - the area between 100 and 1000 meters deep where a small amount of the sun's light can still penetrate. This area has proved particularly troublesome for researchers to study, as scientific instruments are typically designed to either sink to the ocean floor or float on the surface.

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New Species of Giant Tortoise Found in the Galápagos

Paging Charles Darwin: The island of Santa Cruz within the Galápagos has not one but two distinct species of giant tortoise, a new genetic study finds. For years, researchers thought that the giant tortoises living on the western and eastern sides of Santa Cruz belonged to the same species. The Santa Cruz tortoise species that has long been called Chelonoidis porter are the ones living on the western side, in a region of the island known as La Reserva.


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Howler Monkeys with Deeper Calls Have Smaller Balls

The smaller the size of the testes in a howler monkey species, the larger the size of the animal's hyoid bone, a structure that enables the monkeys to make deep, booming calls — noises on a par with those of a tiger, though howler monkeys are only about the size of cocker spaniels. The relative sizes of the hyoid bones and testes appear to be related to how the animal lives and reproduces, according to a new study, published today (Oct. 22) in the journal Current Biology. Curiosity about the howler monkey's booming calls dates back to at least Charles Darwin, who suggested that the males' cries are used to attract females, which choose mates based on the depth and resonance of these calls.


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'Chaos' on Jupiter’s Moon Europa Perhaps Spawned by Comet Crashes

Comets or asteroids slamming into Jupiter's moon Europa might explain the chaotic jumble of icy blocks seen across the satellite's surface, researchers say. This theory suggests that cosmic impacts might have helped deliver the ingredients for life into the hidden oceans that scientists think lurk beneath the surfaces of Europa and several other frozen moons in the solar system, investigators added. "It is not evidence for the existence of life, but it increases the suitability of Europa's ocean as a habitat, increasing our interest in going there to look and find out for sure," study lead author Rónadh Cox, a geologist at Williams College at Williamstown, Massachusetts, told Space.com.


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James Webb Space Telescope Documentary Will Launch in Early 2016

Officials for the second White House Astronomy Night announced on Tuesday (Oct. 19) that the documentary, entitled "Telescope," will air on both Discovery Channel and Science Channel as part of a special "Weekend of Science Programming." The announcement was made at the astronomy event, hosted by President Barack Obama, and confirmed in a statement from the Discovery Channel, obtained exclusively by Space.com. The $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is scheduled to blast off in late 2018, is touted as the successor to NASA's venerable Hubble Space Telescope, which has been observing the heavens for 25 years.


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What Really Killed Notorious English Leader Oliver Cromwell?

The last weeks of Oliver Cromwell's life were marked by a roller coaster of illness. During the embalming of Cromwell, examiners found that his brain had overheated, his lungs were engorged, and his spleen, while of normal size, was filled with matter that looked like the "Lees of Oyl," or the big deposits of oil that might settle at the bottom of a jar, something that is characteristic of a septic spleen, Saint said.


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Secular People More Likely to See Science and Religion in Conflict

Religion and science may be naturally at odds, but being anti-science? That seems to be the view of most Americans, according to new survey data. A majority of Americans see religion and science as frequently at odds, but two-thirds of Americans say their own personal beliefs do not conflict with science, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.


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Is It a Fake? DNA Testing Deepens Mystery of Shroud of Turin

Is it a medieval fake or a relic of Jesus Christ? A new analysis of DNA from the Shroud of Turin reveals that people from all over the world have touched the venerated garment. "Individuals from different ethnic groups and geographical locations came into contact with the Shroud [of Turin] either in Europe (France and Turin) or directly in their own lands of origin (Europe, northeast Africa, Caucasus, Anatolia, Middle East and India)," study lead author Gianni Barcaccia, a geneticist at the University of Padua in Italy and lead author of the new study describing the DNA analysis, said in an email.

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Life May Have Begun 4.1 Billion Years Ago on an Infant Earth

If life on Earth did spring up relatively quickly, that suggests life could be abundant in the universe, scientists added. "The faster life arises on Earth, the more varied and possibly extreme are the conditions in which it can do so elsewhere and be sustained," study co-author Mark Harrison, a geochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Live Science.


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MERS, Ebola, bird flu: Science's big missed opportunities

By Kate Kelland LONDON, (Reuters) - Anyone who goes down with flu in Europe this winter could be asked to enroll in a randomized clinical trial in which they will either be given a drug, which may or may not work, or standard advice to take bed rest and paracetamol. Scientists are largely in the dark about how to stop or treat the slew of never-seen-before global health problems of recent years, from the emergence of the deadly MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, to a new killer strain of bird flu in China and an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa. "Research in all of the epidemics we have faced over the past decade has been woeful," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health foundation and an expert on infectious diseases.


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Insight: MERS, Ebola, bird flu: Science's big missed opportunities

By Kate Kelland LONDON, (Reuters) - Anyone who goes down with flu in Europe this winter could be asked to enrol in a randomised clinical trial in which they will either be given a drug, which may or may not work, or standard advice to take bedrest and paracetamol. Scientists are largely in the dark about how to stop or treat the slew of never-seen-before global health problems of recent years, from the emergence of the deadly MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, to a new killer strain of bird flu in China and an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa. "Research in all of the epidemics we have faced over the past decade has been woeful," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health foundation and an expert on infectious diseases.


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Insight - MERS, Ebola, bird flu: Science's big missed opportunities

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Anyone who goes down with flu in Europe this winter could be asked to enrol in a randomised clinical trial in which they will either be given a drug, which may or may not work, or standard advice to take bedrest and paracetamol. Scientists are largely in the dark about how to stop or treat the slew of never-seen-before global health problems of recent years, from the emergence of the deadly MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, to a new killer strain of bird flu in China and an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa. "Research in all of the epidemics we have faced over the past decade has been woeful," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health foundation and an expert on infectious diseases.


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