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Showing posts from February 8, 2016

Snug as a bug: the hated cockroach inspires a helpful robot

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People use a lot of words to describe the reviled cockroach: disgusting, ugly, sneaky and repulsive, to name a few. Scientists said on Monday they have built a small search-and-rescue robot, inspired by the ability of cockroaches to squeeze through tiny crevices, designed to navigate through rubble to find survivors after natural disasters or bombings. "We feel strongly that cockroaches are one of nature's most revolting animals, but they can teach us important design principles," University of California, Berkeley integrative biology professor Robert Full said.


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Death by Meteorite? India Tragedy May Be 1st in Recorded History

The incident happened Saturday (Feb. 6) when an object, thought to be a meteorite, hit a college campus in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India, the Wall Street Journal reported. The impact killed a man and injured three others, the WSJ said. Officials found a 4-feet-deep (1.2 meters) crater in the ground that contained "bluish black" rock fragments, G. Baskar, the college's principal in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district, told the WSJ.


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Snug as a bug: the hated cockroach inspires a helpful robot

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People use a lot of words to describe the reviled cockroach: disgusting, ugly, sneaky and repulsive, to name a few. Scientists said on Monday they have built a small search-and-rescue robot, inspired by the ability of cockroaches to squeeze through tiny crevices, designed to navigate through rubble to find survivors after natural disasters or bombings. "We feel strongly that cockroaches are one of nature's most revolting animals, but they can teach us important design principles," University of California, Berkeley integrative biology professor Robert Full said.


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Antiperspirant May Boost Variety of 'Bugs' Living on Your Armpits

If you're an antiperspirant user, you probably slather on the stuff in order to wipe out odor-causing bacteria. The use of antiperspirants and deodorant alter the skin microbiome, according to a new open-access study published in the journal PeerJ on Tuesday (Feb. 2). Antiperspirants reduce the total number of bacteria dramatically, but seem to leave a more diverse group of survivors than what is seen on the underarms of people who use just deodorant or nothing at all.

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Treasures Dug Up by Tomb Robbers Returned to Italy

At least 45 boxes filled with archaeological treasures have been returned to Italy after they were hidden in a Geneva warehouse by a disgraced British art dealer, Swiss authorities said. Swiss investigators suspect that tomb robbers illegally dug up most of these antiquities at ancient cemeteries in central Italy's Umbria and Lazio regions, where the Etruscan civilization thrived 2,500 years ago before the rise of Rome. The Etruscans are particularly famous for producing beautiful sarcophagi, or coffins, carved with reclining life-size human figures.


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Whooping Cough Booster Wears Off in Teens

A booster vaccine aimed at protecting teens against whooping cough may wear off over time, a new study suggests. In the study, researchers looked at about 1,200 cases of whooping cough (also called pertussis) that occurred among a population of about 280,000 teens in California between January 2006 and March 2015. Despite high vaccination rates against the disease among teens, there were two major outbreaks in this group in California, in 2010 and 2014.

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Why the BMI May Be a Flawed Measure of Health

The body mass index, or BMI, may not be an accurate indicator of a person's risk of heart disease or diabetes, according to a new study. The results suggest that about 75 million adults in the United States may be misclassified — they have a true risk of heart disease or diabetes that is either lower or higher than suggested by their BMIs, the researchers said. The new results show that BMI is a flawed measure of health, they said.

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Benefits of Eating Fish During Pregnancy May Outweigh Mercury Risk

For pregnant women, eating fish every week may benefit the brain of their future child, and may even decrease his or her risk of having some of the early signs of autism, according to a new study. In the study, researchers in Spain followed about 2,000 mothers and their children, beginning in the mothers' first trimester of pregnancy, and continuing until the children turned 5. The results showed that the children whose mothers ate three to four servings of fish a week had IQ scores that were 2.8 percent higher than those whose mothers ate less fish.

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New Pressure Sensor Could Help Detect Breast Tumors One Day

A new transparent, bendable pressure sensor could be incorporated into a pair of latex gloves and one day help doctors check women for breast cancer, without requiring X-rays, researchers say. In fact, doctors may rely heavily on their "tactile feeling" of a patient's body to figure out whether the person may have cancer, said study senior author Takao Someya, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Tokyo. Pressure sensors could help doctors analyze their patients' health with greater precision than is possible with their natural sense of touch, the researchers said.

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Magnetic 'MoonWalker' Shoes Help You Defy Gravity

The shoe, named "20:16 MoonWalker," relies on N45 neodymium magnets, which are among the most powerful permanent magnets known. As permanent magnets, they create their own force field, without an external current, and work like refrigerator magnets. "There are different levels of magnets, like N40, 42 and 45," said Patrick Jreijiri, a mechanical engineer and designer for the 20:16 MoonWalker.


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Early Bird or Night Owl? It May Be in Your Genes

According to a new study by the genetics company 23andMe, the preference for being a "morning person" — someone who enjoys waking up early and going to bed early — rather than being an "evening person," who tends to stay up late at night and desperately reaches for the snooze button when the alarm goes off in the morning, is at least partially written in your genes. "I find it interesting to see how genetics influences our preferences and behaviors," said study co-author David Hinds, a statistical geneticist at 23andMe, a privately held genetic testing company headquartered in Mountain View, California. Circadian rhythms are roughly 24-hour cycles of activity controlled by the brain that tell our bodies when to sleep and help regulate other biological processes.

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Feline Friends: Leopard Cats Likely Domesticated in Ancient China

Wild leopard cats may have been domesticated by farmers in China more than 5,000 years ago, according to a new study of feline fossils. Today's pet cats (Felis catus) descend from the wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) native to the Middle East and Southwest Asia. But recent discoveries of cat fossils in China have muddled that narrative.


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Hawking Wants to Power Earth With Mini Black Holes: Crazy or Legit?

If you answered, "Get a mini black hole to orbit Earth," then you and physicist Stephen Hawking may be thinking on the same wavelength. In a lecture on Feb. 2, the famed scientist said tiny black holes, about as massive as the average mountain, could power all of the world's energy needs. "There is nothing technically wrong with this idea, but it is not very practical, at least within the next 10,000 years," said Sabine Hossenfelder, a physicist at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, who blogs at backreaction.blogspot.com.


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Scientists investigate suspected meteorite death in southern India

By Sandhya Ravishankar CHENNAI (Reuters) - Indian scientists are investigating whether a man was killed by a meteorite, which if confirmed would be the first recorded death from falling fragments of space rock in almost 200 years.Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, has said a bus driver at a college in her state was killed by the meteorite and awarded 100,000 rupees ($1,470) in compensation to his family."A meteorite fell within the college premises," Jayalalithaa said. Jayalalithaa, a former film star, left tight-lipped local officials struggling to explain the mystery blast at the engineering college that left a small crater and broke windows.

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Scientists investigate suspected meteorite death in southern India

By Sandhya Ravishankar CHENNAI (Reuters) - Indian scientists are investigating whether a man was killed by a meteorite, which if confirmed would be the first recorded death from falling fragments of space rock in almost 200 years. Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, has said a bus driver at a college in her state was killed by the meteorite and awarded 100,000 rupees ($1,470) in compensation to his family. "A meteorite fell within the college premises," Jayalalithaa said.

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New dinosaur species offers evolutionary clues

By Jim Drury Paleontologists say a 201-million-year-old dinosaur fossil found two years ago on a Welsh beach could offer vital clues to understanding the evolution from the late Triassic to the early Jurassic Period.     Dracoraptor hanigani has been classified as a new species. It's one of the oldest Jurassic dinosaurs ever found, and among the most complete specimens from the time period.     The early Jurassic period is crucial in the evolutionary history of dinosaurs. It followed an extinction event in the late Triassic era that wiped out more than half the species on Earth and may have created the subsequent global dominance of the dinosaurs, led by the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor.     According to Cindy Howells, palaeontology curator at the National Museum of Wales where the fossil is on display, "it's an important find in the early Jurassic because at that time dinosaurs were just starting to diversify.

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Ravens Know When Food-Thieving Rivals Are Watching

Now scientists have found that ravens seem to know when they're being watched by a rival that might steal from them, and then take steps to hide their food. Previous behavior studies with scrub jays, which are raven relatives, showed that they could interpret other bird's thieving intentions — if they spied another jay watching them while they had food, they hid the food away. But the scientists behind the new study wondered — did the jay with the food really know what the rival bird was "thinking?" Maybe it simply followed the other bird's gaze to conclude that it meant to steal from them.


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Baby Frogs Dine on Mom's Unfertilized Eggs

Discovered in wet forests in eastern Taiwan, the frogs are dimorphic, with the females having a slight size advantage, measuring 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) in length, compared with the male's 1.37-inch (35 mm) bodies. Follow us @livescience, Facebook& Google+.


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Samurai Secrets: 1888 Martial Arts Manual for Cops Revealed

A newly translated 19th-century book, written by samurai, describes martial arts techniques designed to help police officers of the time. The book, which contains illustrated instructions, was published in 1888, a time when the samurai class had lost many of its privileges and the formally secretive martial art schools that taught the samurai were willing to divulge their secrets. This book drew on the expertise of 16 martial arts schools operating in Japan in 1888.


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Scientists investigate suspected meteorite death in Tamil Nadu

By Sandhya Ravishankar CHENNAI (Reuters) - Indian scientists are investigating whether a man was killed by a meteorite, which if confirmed would be the first recorded death from falling fragments of space rock in almost 200 years. Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, has said a bus driver at a college in her state was killed by the meteorite and awarded 100,000 rupees ($1,470) in compensation to his family. "A meteorite fell within the college premises," Jayalalithaa said.

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