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Showing posts from November 30, 2015

Why Sleep? Why Dream?

Robert Lawrence Kuhn is the creator, writer and host of "Closer to Truth," a public television series and online resource that features the world's leading thinkers exploring humanity's deepest questions. Kuhn is co-editor, with John Leslie, of "The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything at All?" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). Kuhn contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

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A Prehistoric Murder Mystery: Earth's Worst Mass Extinctions

Paul Wignall is the author of "The Worst of Times: How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions" (Princeton University Press). Beginning 260 million years ago, this phase included the worst mass extinction in Earth's history at the end of the Permian period, another mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period and several more major crises. The crises of this worst-ever 80 million years all share many features in common, especially intense global warming and remarkable changes in the ocean that led to widespread stagnation.


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The Future of Driverless Vehicles (Roundtable)

Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and associate professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California, contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Void of personal and professional opinions, this announcement did a great service for the driverless vehicle industry, promoting awareness of this emerging technology. In late August, IEEE —the world's largest professional organization of engineers — hosted a roundtable at the University of Southern California to discuss the current condition and future development of the autonomous vehicle industry.


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Cobwebs Hold Genetic Secrets About Spiders and Their Prey

You may want to think twice before vacuuming up any pesky cobwebs you find around your home — these messy spider lairs may contain valuable information (valuable to scientists, that is). Knowing exactly which species of spider built a web in a certain area, as well as knowing what that spider feasted on, is important information for researchers in a variety of fields — from conservation ecology to pest management, said study lead author Charles C.Y. Xu, a graduate student in the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme (MEME) in evolutionary biology, a joint program hosted by four European universities and Harvard University in the United States. "There's a variety of different methods to study [spiders]," Xu told Live Science.


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The Latest: Islands plead for tough global warming deal

PARIS (AP) — The latest news from the U.N. climate conference that began Monday in Paris. All times local:


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Is Digital Hoarding a Mental Disorder (And Do You Have It)?

A man who takes thousands of digital pictures weekly and spends hours every day organizing the photos on his computer could have a condition that, until now, has never been described in medical literature. The patient might have "digital hoarding disorder," according to the authors of a recent report on the man's case. The clutter fills his Amsterdam apartment and prevents him from inviting anyone over to visit, according to the report, which was published Oct. 8 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

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Eyes May Offer Window into Cardiovascular Disease

Vision problems may sometimes be the only symptom a person has of a serious cardiovascular condition, a new case report suggests. The man was diagnosed with "amaurosis fugax," a condition in which a person loses vision in one eye, usually for a few minutes at a time, because of an interruption of blood flow in an artery.

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Buried or Open? Ancient Eggshells Reveal Dinosaur Nesting Behaviors

The fragile remains of 150-million-year-old eggshells are helping researchers figure out what kinds of nests dinosaurs created for their eggs, according to a new study. A comprehensive look at 29 types of dinosaur eggs suggests that most dinosaurs buried their eggs in nests covered with dirt and vegetation, a tactic also used by modern-day crocodiles. But some small theropods (mostly meat-eating, bipedal dinosaurs) that were closely related to birds used another strategy: They laid their eggs in open nests, much like most birds do today, the researchers found.


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Bizarre Ancient Sea Creature Was Well-Armed for Feeding

Tribrachidium was a denizen of the shallow seas about 550 million years ago, during the late Ediacaran period. Oddly, Tribrachidium had three-fold symmetry, meaning three segments  were mirror images of each other. "Because we have no obvious modern comparison, that's made it really hard to work out what this organism was like when it was alive — how it moved, if it moved, how it fed, how it reproduced," said Imran Rahman, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom, who led the study.


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7-Million-Year-Old Fossils Show How the Giraffe Got Its Long Neck

For years, there has been scant fossil evidence showing how the giraffe evolved to have such an admirably long neck. "We actually have an animal whose neck is intermediate [in length] — it's a real missing link," said Nikos Solounias, a professor of anatomy at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine and the lead researcher on the study. The creature in question — Samotherium major —lived during the Late Miocene in the forested areas of Eurasia, ranging from Italy to China, Solounias said.


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China plans to launch carbon-tracking satellites into space

China plans to launch satellites to monitor its greenhouse gas emissions as the country, estimated to be the world's top carbon emitter, steps up its efforts to cut such emissions, official news agency Xinhua said on Monday. News of the plan comes as more than 150 world leaders arrived in Paris for climate change talks and Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama said they would work together towards striking a deal that moves towards a low-carbon global economy. According to the Xinhau report, the country's first two carbon-monitoring satellites will be ready by next May after four years of development led by Changchun Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics and Physics, part of China's Academy of Sciences.


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Hypersonic rocket engine could revolutionize space flight

By Matthew and Stock Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines are developing a new aerospace engine class that combines both jet and rocket technologies. The company recently announced a strategic investment from BAE Systems of 20.6 million pounds ($31.4 million USD), in addition to a grant funding of 60 million pounds ($.4 million USD) from the British government, to accelerate the development of their unique SABRE engine. SABRE, which stands for Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, is designed to enable aircraft to operate from a standstill on the runway to hypersonic flight in the atmosphere, and then transition to rocket mode for spaceflight.

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Japanese scientists create touchable holograms

A group of Japanese scientists have created touchable holograms, three dimensional virtual objects that can be manipulated by human hand. Using femtosecond laser technology the researchers developed 'Fairy Lights, a system that can fire high frequency laser pulses that last one millionth of one billionth of a second. The pulses respond to human touch, so that - when interrupted - the hologram's pixels can be manipulated in mid-air.

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'Spooky Action' Heats Up: Atoms Entangled at Room Temperature

The world of the very small can get pretty wacky — particles can be in two or more places at once, and even become entangled, wherein actions on one entity can affect its partners across the cosmos. Physicists have broken all kinds of records in proving the existence of so-called quantum entanglement, and now, they have done it again, coupling together thousands of atoms at room temperature. This new achievement could one day be applied to enable more sensitive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, superpowerful quantum computers and even unhackable quantum communications networks unhackable by any known current technologies, researchers say.


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Humpback Whales Make Migration Pit Stops at Underwater Mountains

Underwater mountains are key stopovers in the migratory routes of an endangered population of humpback whales in the South Pacific, new research shows. Previous research had revealed that humpback whales migrating from breeding grounds off the east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa swim in nearly straight lines in the Atlantic Ocean without noticeable stops and in relatively narrow corridors. Similar migration patterns were seen among humpbacks migrating from breeding grounds off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

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Franken Flatworms Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species

Call them Franken flatworms. Scientists have created worms with the heads and brains of other species just by manipulating cell communication. The researchers did not alter the flatworms' DNA in any way, but instead manipulated proteins that control conversations between cells.


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