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Showing posts from December 5, 2016

Pakistan honours first Nobel laureate Abdus Salam, reversing years of neglect

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan plans to rename a university centre for physicist Abdus Salam, its first Nobel laureate, after more than 30 years of all but disowning his achievements, as a member of a minority sect barred from identifying itself as Muslim. Salam, the first Muslim to win the prize for science, was a member of the Ahmadi sect, which is considered heretical by law in Pakistan, denounced by Muslim leaders and targeted by violent extremists. The office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said it had given approval for the National Centre for Physics at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the capital, to be renamed after Salam.

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U.S. patent agency to weigh rival claims on gene-editing technology

The U.S. patent agency on Tuesday will hear arguments in a heated dispute over who was first to invent a revolutionary gene-editing technology known as CRISPR. Hundreds of millions of dollars may be at stake, as the technology promises commercial applications in treating genetic diseases, engineering crops, and other areas. CRISPR works as a type of molecular scissors that can trim away unwanted parts of the genome, and replace them with new stretches of DNA.

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All Human-Made Objects on Earth Amount to 30 Trillion Tons

Scientists recently discovered that all objects on Earth created by people adds up to an astoundingly large figure. All of these objects are collectively known as Earth's "technosphere." Distributed evenly over the planet's surface, the technosphere would translate into about 110 pounds (50 kilograms) for every 11 square feet (1 square meter), the researchers said. "The technosphere is a system, with its own dynamics and energy flows – and humans have to help keep it going to survive," Zalasiewicz said.

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How Drinking Too Much Water Put One Woman's Life In Danger

The 59-year-old woman went to the emergency room in October 2015 to get antibiotics for a UTI, according to the report. After she received her antibiotics, she intended to go home and rest, but because she felt increasingly lightheaded and sick, her partner persuaded her to stay at the hospital. So when she woke up one Sunday morning and felt a "dull 'thumbprint' pressure" in her lower abdomen, she followed her usual protocol, which meant "(a) drink lots of water and (b) get to the doctor or [emergency room] quickly to get antibiotics," she wrote.


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New American Divide: Organic Food and GMOs Spur Disagreement

Americans are divided in their thinking on whether such choices are beneficial for their health, a new survey finds. Just over half of all Americans, or 55 percent, consider organic produce to be healthier than conventionally grown produce, and 39 percent of Americans think that foods with GM ingredients are less healthy than those without such ingredients, according to the survey. On the other hand, 41 percent of Americans think that organic produce is neither better nor worse for one's health than conventionally grown produce, and 48 percent of Americans think the same about GM foods, according to the nationally representative survey, published today (Dec. 1) by the Pew Research Center.


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Bodybuilder Injects Coconut Oil, Damages Arm Muscle

Instead of just lifting weights, an amateur bodybuilder in the United Kingdom tried to plump up his arm muscles and by injecting them with coconut oil, according to a new report of the case. But he wound up developing cysts inside his arm muscles from the oil, and because he also used steroids, he ruptured his triceps and needed surgery, the report said. An ultrasound revealed a rupture in the tendon that connects the triceps muscle (in the upper arm) to the bone near the elbow.


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Stash of Water May Be Lurking Deep Beneath Earth's Surface

Geoscientists had long thought that below this transition zone (starting at 255 miles, or 410 km, deep) a water-filled mineral called brucite was unstable and so decomposed, sending water molecules flowing toward the planet's surface. But new research suggests that before brucite — which is 50 percent magnesium oxide and 50 percent water — decomposes, it transforms into another, more stable 3D structure. The finding, detailed online Nov. 21 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, means there's a stash of water located deeper in Earth than was previously thought.


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'Magic Mushrooms' Compound May Treat Depression in Cancer Patients

The hallucinogen found in "magic mushrooms" can considerably reduce the depression and anxiety felt by patients who have terminal or advanced cancer, according to new research published in two studies. Both studies showed that just a single dose of psilocybin — a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushroom species — could reduce psychological distress in cancer patients, and that this effect was immediate and long-lasting. Participants who took psilocybin reported reductions in their depression and anxiety just one day after taking the drug, and the effects of that one dose lasted for the next six months in up to 80 percent of participants in both studies.


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Ancient Americans Mutilated Corpses in Funeral Rituals

Ancient people ripped out teeth, stuffed broken bones into human skulls and de-fleshed corpses as part of elaborate funeral rituals in South America, an archaeological discovery has revealed. The site of Lapa do Santo in Brazil holds a trove of human remains that were modified elaborately by the earliest inhabitants of the continent starting around 10,000 years ago, the new study shows. The finds change the picture of this culture's sophistication, said study author André Strauss, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.


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Royal 7th-Century Ship Burial Holds Rare 'Tar' Substance

An Anglo-Saxon ship buried on the banks of an English river in honor of a seventh-century king carried a rare, tar-like substance from the Middle East on board. The ship burial and other burial mounds, located at a site called Sutton Hoo, were found nearly 80 years ago along the River Deben in modern-day England. The ship was carrying a type of bitumen, a naturally occurring petroleum-based asphalt, that is found only in the Middle East.


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Underwater Stone Age Site Was Fisherman's Paradise

A now-submerged Stone Age settlement has been mapped in the Baltic Sea, revealing how its ancient inhabitants lived along what was once a lagoon on the coast of Sweden some 9,000 years ago. The exceptionally well-preserved site was discovered about seven years ago, after divers came upon what are now considered to be the oldest stationary fish traps in northern Europe. Lead researcher Anton Hansson, a doctoral student in Quaternary geology at Lund University, and his colleagues reconstructed what the lagoon settlement would have looked like during the Mesolithic using a type of sonar system called multibeam echo-sounder technology.


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Bipedal Human Ancestor 'Lucy' Was a Tree Climber, Too

"Lucy," an early human ancestor that lived 3 million years ago, walked on two legs. High-resolution computed X-ray tomography (CT) scans of long bones in Lucy's arms reveal internal structures suggesting that her upper limbs were built for heavy load bearing — much like chimpanzees' arms, which they use to pull themselves up tree trunks and to swing between branches. This adds to a growing body of evidence that although Lucy's pelvis, leg bones and feet supported bipedal walking, her upper body was adapted for at least partial life in trees — far more so than in modern humans.


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Tornado Cluster Sizes Skyrocket, and No One Knows Why

Tornados are behaving strangely: The number of tornado outbreaks per year is fairly constant, but the number of tornados per outbreak has skyrocketed. In an effort to learn more, researchers looked at meteorological factors related to tornado outbreaks, and then dug into the data to see whether these factors had changed over time, said study lead researcher Michael Tippett, an associate professor of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia University. The analyses did yield a result, but an unexpected one, Tippett said.


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Stolen Mummy Hand Makes Its Way Home

"It's sort of amazing the things people will try and ship across international borders," archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, a National Geographic fellow, said in a video statement. In addition to the eighth-century-B.C. mummy hand, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, also returned intricately painted ancient sarcophagi in a ceremony at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday (Dec. 1). "While we recognize that cultural property, art and antiquities are assigned a dollar value in the marketplace, the cultural and symbolic worth of these Egyptian treasures far surpasses any monetary value to the people of Egypt," ICE Director Sarah Saldaña said during her remarks.


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Reel Big: 112-Pound Catfish Caught in North Carolina

A gigantic, 112-lb. (50 kilograms) catfish was reeled in by a North Carolina man the day before Thanksgiving, according to local news reports. The man, Riahn Brewington, caught the massive fish in the northeast section of Cape Fear River in North Carolina, local ABC affiliate WWAY reported. Brewington said he could tell the catch was big, but he had only a 10-lb. (4.5 kg) line on his fishing rod.


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Flying Robotic Ambulance Completes First Solo Test Flight

Completing such missions in rough terrain or combat zones can be tricky, with helicopters currently offering the best transportation option in most cases. Earlier this month, Israeli company Urban Aeronautics completed a test flight for a robotic flying vehicle that could one day go where helicopters can't. On Nov. 14, the company flew its robotic flyer, dubbed the Cormorant, on the craft's first solo flight over real terrain.


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