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Showing posts from February 11, 2016

Epic Gravitational Wave Detection: How Scientists Did It

To spot gravitational waves directly for the first time ever, scientists had to measure a distance change 1,000 times smaller than the width of a proton. Researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced today (Feb. 11) that they had made history's first direct detection of gravitational waves, enigmatic ripples in space-time whose existence was first predicted 100 years ago by Albert Einstein's famous theory of general relativity. The gravitational waves were generated by the merger of two medium-size black holes about 1.3 billion years ago, researchers said.


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To Stop Brain Shrinkage, Start Moving

Couch potatoes beware: Physical fitness during middle age may be a driver of brain health later in life, according to the results of a new study. The brain shrinkage was small but significant enough to raise the participants' risk of memory loss and dementia, the researchers said. The research tapped into data from the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing program that has followed the lives of thousands of ordinary people over the course of nearly 70 years and three generations.

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Jaguar Aims to Make Autonomous Cars Drive More Like Humans

Self-driving cars may represent an important achievement in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, but one car manufacturer is hoping to develop new technologies that could help these autonomous machines drive less like robots and more like, well, humans. British automotive company Jaguar Land Rover is taking part in a new research project, dubbed MOVE-UK, to foster the development of safer and more effective autonomous cars. "Customers are much more likely to accept highly automated and fully autonomous vehicles if the car reacts in the same way as the driver," Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology for Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement.


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Head Case: Henry VIII Beheaded Wives Due to Head Injuries?

England's King Henry VIII is best known for his erratic and sometimes violent behavior — he married six times and had two of his wives beheaded, for example — and now, researchers say the Tudor king's brutal ways may have stemmed from brain injuries he got during several sporting accidents. Henry VIII suffered a series of head injuries, potentially resulting in traumatic brain injury that may explain his boorish behavior, a new study said. In the study, the researchers analyzed historical documents for reports of the king's health and behavior, up to his death, at age 55.

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Einstein's gravitational waves detected in scientific milestone

By Will Dunham and Scott Malone WASHINGTON/CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - Scientists said on Thursday they have for the first time detected gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesized by physicist Albert Einstein a century ago, in a landmark discovery that opens a new window for studying the cosmos. The researchers said they detected gravitational waves coming from two black holes - extraordinarily dense objects whose existence also was foreseen by Einstein - that orbited one another, spiraled inward and smashed together. ...


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Elephants 'Sneeze' to Get Hard-to-Reach Treats

The animals are widely known as some of the most intelligent mammals on Earth, and the new findings strengthen a hypothesis proposed by Charles Darwin: that elephants are "tool users" because they can use their trunks to manipulate their breath and help grasp hard-to-reach food. The researchers saw that when pieces of food were too far away for the elephants to grab with their trunks, the animals would blast air to bring the treats closer. To test their theory, researchers at Kyoto University and The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), both in Japan, mapped out a digital grid of the elephants' enclosure and placed pieces of food — such as apples, hay, leaves, potatoes and bamboo — in different locations.


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Extraterrestrial Life Could Be Vulnerable to Greenhouse Effect

A powerful greenhouse effect can destroy a planet's chances of hosting life, a new study suggests. Until proven otherwise, scientists on Earth assume water is necessary for life to arise on other planets. Inside such a habitable zone, Earth-like planets are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface.


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Ripple effect - scientists await word on gravitational waves

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A century ago, Albert Einstein hypothesised the existence of gravitational waves, small ripples in space and time that dash across the universe at the speed of light. On Thursday, at a news conference called by the U.S. National Science Foundation, researchers may announce at long last direct observations of the elusive waves. Such a discovery would represent a scientific landmark, opening the door to an entirely new way to observe the cosmos and unlock secrets about the early universe and mysterious objects like black holes and neutron stars.


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Bacterial Slime Acts As Teensy Eyeball

Slimy microbes called cyanobacteria use their teensy bodies as lenses to collect light and "see," before growing little legs to inch toward those rays, new research suggests. "The idea that bacteria can see their world in basically the same way that we do is pretty exciting," study lead author Conrad Mullineaux, a microbiologist at the Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement. Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are some of the most ancient life-forms on the planet.


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Fossils Shed New Light on Human-Gorilla Split

Fossils of what may be primitive relatives of gorillas suggest that the human and gorilla lineages split up to 10 million years ago, millions of years later than what has been recently suggested, researchers say. Although the fossil record of human evolution is still patchy, it is better understood than that of great apes such as chimpanzees and gorillas. Since few great ape fossils have been found in Africa so far, "some scientists have forcefully suggested that the ancestors of African apes and humans must have emerged in Eurasia," said study senior author Gen Suwa, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Tokyo.


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Why Are Millennials Narcissistic? Blame Income Inequality

Millennials have heard it before: People born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s are the most narcissistic, individualistic and self-absorbed generation in recorded history. Researchers reporting in 2013 in the journal Psychological Science found that socioeconomic changes preceded changes in individualism, particularly the change from a blue-collar manufacturing economy to one full of white-collar office workers. Meanwhile, cross-cultural research suggests that countries with greater income inequality tend to have citizens with higher self-regard.

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First Migrants to Imperial Rome ID'd by Their Teeth

Three adult men and a young adolescent of unknown gender buried in cemeteries outside Rome were likely migrants to the city, their teeth reveal. The four immigrants all lived during the first to third centuries A.D. They are the first individuals ever to be identified as migrants to the city during the Roman Imperial era, which began around the turn of the millennium and ended in the fourth century. This was a time when Rome was a thriving, complex metropolis, said study researcher Kristina Killgrove, a biological anthropologist at the University of West Florida.


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Gravitational Waves: A Black Hole Is Trying to Slap You — Can You Feel It?

Paul Sutter is a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University’s Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP). Sutter is also host of the podcasts Ask a Spaceman and RealSpace, and the YouTube series Space In Your Face. Sutter contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.


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Have Gravitational Waves Been Detected? Scientists Provide Update Today (Watch Live)

Scientists are widely expected to announce the first-ever direct detection of elusive gravitational waves this morning, and you can watch the big moment live. Then, at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT), the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada, will host its own webcast about the announcement and its implications. Space.com will carry that event live as well, thanks to the Perimeter Institute.


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Ripple effect: scientists await word on gravitational waves

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A century ago, Albert Einstein hypothesized the existence of gravitational waves, small ripples in space and time that dash across the universe at the speed of light. On Thursday, at a news conference called by the U.S. National Science Foundation, researchers may announce at long last direct observations of the elusive waves. Such a discovery would represent a scientific landmark, opening the door to an entirely new way to observe the cosmos and unlock secrets about the early universe and mysterious objects like black holes and neutron stars.


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