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Showing posts from December 16, 2016

Giant Megalodon Shark Teeth May Have Inspired Mayan Monster Myths

Giant fossilized teeth from extinct megalodon sharks may have inspired portrayals of a primordial sea monster in Mesoamerican creation myths, according to a new study of the concepts of sharks in ancient Mayan society. The study looked at how the Maya combined a practical, prescientific knowledge of sharks with their traditional understanding of the world around them as the creation of gods and monsters. In the research paper, titled "Sharks in the Jungle: real and imagined sea monsters of the Maya," published online Nov. 21 in the journal Antiquity, Sarah Newman, an archaeologist at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, wrote that fossilized teeth from the extinct shark species Carcharodon megalodon were used in sacred offerings at several ancient Mayan sites, such as Palenque in southern Mexico, where archaeologists have found 13 megalodon teeth.


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New Sea-Level Rise Projection Raises Threat to World's Coasts

About one-quarter of the world's population lives in coastal areas that will be unlivable by the year 2100 because of rising sea levels, researchers say. In a special issue of the journal Earth's Future, coastal scientists and engineers detailed projections for sea-level rise for the year 2100, and described their model Monday (Dec. 12) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. "To really understand how this might be impacted by sea-level rise, or other kinds of change, we need to understand all of the different scales and how they interact," Nicholls said.


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Isaac Newton's Book Auctioned for Record-Setting $3.7 Million

A bound copy of Sir Isaac Newton's seminal book on mathematics and science was sold for $3.7 million, making it the most expensive printed scientific book ever sold at auction, according to Christie's, the auction house that handled the sale. The book has a Latin title — "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica," which translates to "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy," but scholars often call it the Principia. After Newton (1642-1727) wrote the book, he gave it to the English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742) for editing, and it was printed and sold in London more than 300 years ago, in 1687.


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Science of 'Star Wars': How Would Lightsabers, the Force & Hyperspeed Work?

Movies like the upcoming "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" often blend science with fiction. To separate the two, a panel of scientists convened in Atlanta in September during Dragon Con to discuss the potential science of the overall "Star Wars" universe. Led by journalist Rachel Pendergrass, the speakers included astrophysicists Erin Macdonald and Roy Kilgard, engineer Andy Dykes and biologist Eric Spana.


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Denying Abortion Access May Harm Women's Mental Health

If women choose to have an abortion, those who are allowed to obtain one may have better mental health outcomes than those who are denied one, according to a new study. The results of the study cast doubt on the idea that women experience mental health problems due to having an abortion, the researchers said. This idea has been used as a basis for laws in some states that require women to undergo counseling about the supposed negative psychological outcomes from having an abortion before these women obtain such an procedure, the researchers said.


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For Goodness' Sake? Santa Delivers for Both Naughty and Nice Kids, Study Finds

It turns out that it's not whether kids are naughty or nice that determines if Santa pays them a visit on Christmas. Rather, socioeconomic factors appear to make the difference when Santa Claus plans his Christmas route, a new study from the United Kingdom finds. In the study, published Dec. 14 in the annual Christmas issue of the BMJ, which is a tongue-in-cheek edition of the medical journal that normally publishes serious research, the researchers wanted to figure out why Santa visited some of the children's wards of hospitals in the United Kingdom, but not others.


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Alan Thicke's Death: How Do Heart Attacks Kill So Fast?

Actor Alan Thicke died after a heart attack on Tuesday, TMZ reported. Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked, starving the muscle tissue of oxygen, which causes damage. Thicke, who was 69, was playing ice hockey with his son when he suffered his heart attack on Dec. 13.


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How to Build a Death Star

I'm very excited about seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which tells the tale summarized in the original Star Wars' opening crawl. This is the story of how the rebels stole the plans to the original "Death Star" – a space station the size of a small moon with a weapon powerful enough to destroy a planet. In Star Wars lore, the 120 km (75-mile) diameter space station was made from quadanium steel (a fictional metal alloy) and crewed by 2m Imperial personnel, including officers, Stormtroopers and TIE pilots.


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