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Showing posts from August 4, 2016

Hear! Hear! Exquisite fossils preserve ear of prehistoric whale

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fossils unearthed in a South Carolina drainage ditch are providing insight into the development of ultrasonic hearing in prehistoric whales, a trait closely linked to their uncanny ability to hunt and navigate using sound waves and echoes. CT scans of the ear and comparisons with other whale species showed Echovenator's ear possessed many features found today in whales that can hear ultrasonic frequencies, above the range of human hearing. "Echovenator already shows skull features associated with echolocation, although it perhaps couldn't have processed signals from echolocation as well as modern dolphins," said New York Institute of Technology paleontologist Morgan Churchill, lead author of the research published in the journal Current Biology.


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Ouch! Duck-Billed Dinosaur Had Arthritis in Its Elbow

Arthritis is far from just a modern malady, said scientists who discovered the condition in the elbow of a 70-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur. The finding is the oldest recorded case of septic arthritis — a condition in which a joint becomes inflamed, often from bacteria or fungus — the researchers said. "Our [duck-billed dinosaur] seems to have been afflicted with septic arthritis, which completely destroyed the elbow joint," said study lead researcher Jennifer Anné, a recent doctoral graduate from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester in England.


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Science of Politics: Why Trump and Clinton Should Be Nice to Each Other

Here's a tactic you likely won't see much of during this year's electoral matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: Complimenting the opposition. A strategy of flattery is "very rare," said study researcher Nicoletta Cavazza, a professor of communication and economics at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. In the new study, Cavazza looked at whether going positive could rebound on a candidate as well.

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Blisters and Burns Prompt Fitness Tracker Recall

One of the first fitness trackers to include a wrist-worn heart rate monitor, the Basis Peak, is now being recalled because of its potential to cause blisters or burns on the skin, the company said today. In June, Basis told users to stop wearing the Peak until the company could release a software update that would automatically shut down the device if it started to overheat. "Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we aren't able to develop such a solution without completely compromising the user experience," the company said in a statement.

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Why Amish Kids Get Less Asthma: It's the Cows

One way to reduce children's rates of asthma may come from dairy farms, a new study finds. Kids who grow up in Amish communities have much lower rates of asthma than the general population, potentially thanks to their exposure to the communities' dairy farms at an early age, according to the study, published today (Aug. 3) in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Saved by the Whale! Humpbacks Play Hero When Orcas Attack

Only moments earlier, the seal was perilously close to becoming dinner for a group of hungry killer whales. Biologist Robert Pitman snapped the image while on a research expedition in 2009 — but it wasn't the first time he had observed this unusual protective behavior. Just one week earlier, Pitman, a researcher with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in the NOAA Fisheries Service in California, saw a pair of humpbacks aggressively confronting killer whales that were circling a lone seal on an isolated ice floe.


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First Reprogrammable Quantum Computer Created

Scientists have created the first programmable and reprogrammable quantum computer, according to a new study. The technology could usher in a much-anticipated era of quantum computing, which researchers say could help scientists run complex simulations and produce rapid solutions to tricky calculations. Prior work also found that such capabilities would allow quantum computers to solve certain problems much faster than conventional computers can, for instance, breaking encryption that would take regular computers longer than the lifetime of the sun to crack.


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The Science Behind Hawaii's 'Smiley Face' Volcano

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been actively erupting since 1983, and it's one of the most active volcanoes in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The smiley face appeared in a lava lake crater on the west flank of Pu'u 'O'o, on Kilauea's East Rift Zone, according to Janet Babb, a geologist with the USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.


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Alien Life May Be Common in the Far Future

"If you ask, 'When is life most likely to emerge?' you might naively say, 'Now,'" study lead author Avi Loeb, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement. The new study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.


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