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Showing posts from December 7, 2015

Scientists assembled for Monsanto say herbicide not carcinogenic, disputing WHO report

By Karl Plume CHICAGO (Reuters) - A panel of scientists is disputing a World Health Organization report published earlier this year that concluded glyphosate, the world's most widely used weed killer and main ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup herbicide, is probably carcinogenic to humans. The 16-member panel, assembled by Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy, will present its findings to the annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis on Monday, aiming to publish the study at a later date after peer review. Monsanto paid Intertek for the panel's work.

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Chinese researchers unveil brain powered car

Chinese researchers have developed what they say is the country's first car that uses nothing but brain power to drive.     The research team from Nankai University, in the north-eastern Chinese port city of Tianjin, has spent two years bringing the mind-controlled vehicle to reality.     By wearing brain signal-reading equipment a driver can control the car to go forward, backwards, come to a stop, and both lock and unlock the vehicle, all without moving their hands or feet.     Researcher Zhang Zhao told Reuters the equipment comprises 16 sensors that capture EEG (electroencephalogram) signals from the driver's brain. The core of the whole flow is to process the EEG signals, which is done on the computer," said Zhang.     Associate Professor Duan Feng, from the university's College of Computer and Control Engineering, led the project.


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Fusion power getting closer, say UK scientists

By Jim Drury As world leaders meet in Paris to agree a legal framework aimed at limiting use of fossil fuels and the resulting rises in global temperatures, a UK company says it could be as little as five years from making "reactor relevant" fusion, a potential game changer in energy production. A British company believes it is within five years of achieving "reactor relevant" fusion, a major landmark in the six decade long scientific search for the veritable Holy Grail of energy production.     Fusion is how stars produce energy. It occurs when the nuclei of light atoms, such as hydrogen, are fused together under extreme pressure and heat.     Tokamak Energy, from Oxfordshire, believes that the third version of their compact, spherical tokamak reactor will be able to reach temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius by 2020.

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Little Male Songbird Makes Colorful Splash at Brooklyn Park

A stunningly colorful little male songbird has drawn a big crowd to Brooklyn's Prospect Park this week. The painted bunting (Passerina ciris), a member of the cardinal family, has never (in recent memory) been spotted in the treasured 526-acre (2.1 square kilometers) park. "This is the first recorded sighting of a male painted bunting in Brooklyn in recent memory," stated the Prospect Park Alliance.


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Stick-Figure Science: Cartoonist Makes Complicated Stuff Simple

Randall Munroe once designed robots at NASA, and now he's undertaken a comparably tough task: describing the science of complex "stuff" such as elevators, the Mars Curiosity rover and nuclear reactors using only the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. Granted, Munroe's new book "Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words"(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) contains diagrams of the things he's explaining, such as "boxes that make clothes smell better" (washing machines and dryers) and a "hole-making city boat" (oil rig), that help readers understand each concept. Munroe studied math and physics in college, but constantly worried that people would think he was stupid if he didn't always use the correct technical term, he said at a reading in New York City on Tuesday (Nov. 24), the day of his book's release.


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CERN in a Shoebox? Tiny Particle Accelerators Are Coming

Scientists could soon develop particle accelerators that can fit into a shoebox, experts say. The project, which is still in its infancy, would rely on lasers, rather than microwaves, to ramp particles to near light speed. Using lasers, "you can accelerate particles in a shorter distance to get to a higher energy," said Joel England, a researcher at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, and one of the principal researchers involved in the project.


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9 Hacks for Making Healthier Holiday Cookies

When a huge array of holiday cookies is out on display, people do not have just one cookie and feel satisfied, said Libby Mills, a nutrition and cooking coach in Philadelphia and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Those extra calories can add up to too many, at a time when people are already frequently celebrating around food and beverages, Mills said. This is a good reason to be smart about the size of cookie that you eat or bake, and to stick with a smaller cookie, said Sara Haas, a dietitian and chef in Chicago and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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New Superbug's Genetic Trick Could Help It Spread

Health experts are keeping a close eye on a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria called CRE that, while still rare, has the potential to become more widespread in the United States. A new report released on Thursday said that in the past five years, researchers have identified 43 patients in the United States who became sick with infections from one type of CRE. These cases all involved CRE that share a particular method of defeating the antibiotics: they have enzymes called OXA-48-like carbapenemases that break down the drugs, said the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Wi-Fi 'Allergies': Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Real?

For some time now, people with unexplained and recurring headaches, dizziness and skin irritation have been blaming their often severe discomfort on sensitivity to electromagnetic field sources, a condition sometimes called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In a recent case, the family of a 15-year-old girl in the United Kingdom who died by suicide said the girl had suffered from an allergy to Wi-Fi signals. Participants in a survey of people claiming to be suffering from EHS described physical symptoms such as headache and fatigue that appeared whenever they were close to devices that emit electromagnetic signals, such as Wi-Fi stations, cellphones and computer screens.


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400-Year-Old Embalmed Hearts Found Under French Convent

Four hundred years after they were buried in heart-shaped lead urns, five embalmed human hearts have been discovered in a cemetery in northwestern France. The hearts were discovered underneath the basement of the Convent of the Jacobins in Rennes, where archaeologists with France's National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research have been excavating graves for the past several years, ahead of a plan to turn the site into a conference center. So far, the archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of burials dating back to the late 16th or early 17th centuries, including the well-preserved corpse of a widow named Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, who died in 1656.


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Superquiet Supersonic: NASA Aims for Softer Booms

The space agency is currently developing technologies that could make supersonic planes less noisy and therefore less "annoying" for those on the ground. NASA and its partners in the aviation industry are building "low-boom aircraft," with different designs than those used in older supersonic jets, like the retired Concorde. The new generation of planeswill have a body shape that reduces the "annoying noise, rattle and vibration" that occurs when aircraft break the sound barrier, creating the shock waves that produce sonic booms, NASA said.


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Mysterious Egyptian Mummy Has Head Full of Dirt

A mysterious Egyptian mummy dating back about 3,200 years has dirt in the skull, a new investigation reveals. The presence of what looks like dark sediment inside the mummy's head is bizarre, said the researchers, who used computed tomography (CT) to peer inside the mummy. "It's some form of material added into the brain case while the brain was left inside," Jonathan Elias, the director of the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium, said in a statement.


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Ancient 'Wand' May Be Oldest Example of Lead Work in the Levant

A lead and wood artifact discovered in a roughly 6,000-year-old grave in a desert cave is the oldest evidence of smelted lead on record in the Levant, a new study finds. The artifact, which looks like something between an ancient wand and a tiny sword, suggests that people in Israel's northern Negev desert learned how to smelt lead during the Late Chalcolithic, a period known for copper work but not lead work, said Naama Yahalom-Mack, the study's lead researcher and a postdoctoral student of archaeology with a specialty in metallurgy at the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Moreover, an analysis of the lead suggests that it came from Anatolia (in modern-day Turkey), which is part of the Levant, or the area encompassing the eastern Mediterranean.


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Mark Zuckerberg's Donation: What Can You Buy with $45 Billion?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, made a shocking announcement this week, saying they would donate 99 percent of their financial worth over their lifetimes. Though the charitable act would have several tax benefits, as The New York Times pointed out, the power couple said they hope to use that money to "advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation," according to a long post by Zuckerberg on his Facebook page. In focusing on philanthropy, the duo joins other high-profile billionaires, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have committed vast sums of money in an effort to reduce poverty and improve conditions around the world.

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