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Sci/Tech
 

Gravitational waves detected 100 years after Einstein's prediction

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.

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New Lyme-disease-causing bacteria species discovered

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and health officials from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, report the discovery of a new species of bacteria (Borrelia mayonii) that causes Lyme disease in people. Until now, Borrelia burgdorferi was the only species believed to cause Lyme disease in North America.

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New tarantula named after Johnny Cash among 14 spider species found in the United States

A new species of tarantula named after the famous singer-songwriter Johnny Cash is one of fourteen new spiders discovered in the southwestern United States. While these charismatic spiders have captured the attention of people around the world, and have been made famous by Hollywood, little was actually known about them. The new descriptions nearly double the number of species known from the region. Biologists at Auburn University and Millsaps College have described these hairy, large-bodied spiders in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

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Taser shock disrupts brain function, has implications for police interrogations

More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person's brain?

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Greenland ice sheet releasing “Mississippi River” worth of phosphorus

Not only is Greenland’s melting ice sheet adding huge amounts of water to the oceans, it could also be unleashing 400,000 metric tons of phosphorus every year – as much as the mighty Mississippi River releases into the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new study. Phosphorus is a key nutrient that could, if it reaches the open ocean, enrich waters of the Arctic Ocean, potentially stimulating growth of the marine food chain, the study’s authors said.

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What Goes Wrong in the Brain When Someone Can’t Spell

By studying stroke victims who have lost the ability to spell, researchers have pinpointed the parts of the brain that control how we write words.

In the latest issue of the journal Brain, Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists link basic spelling difficulties for the first time with damage to seemingly unrelated regions of the brain, shedding new light on the mechanics of language and memory.

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Global Earthquake Numbers on Par for 2015

Globally there were 14,588 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater in 2015. This worldwide number is on par with prior year averages of about 40 earthquakes per day of magnitude 4.0, or about 14,500 annually. The 2015 number may change slightly as the final results are completed by seismic analysts at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

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Moon was produced by a head-on collision between Earth and a forming planet

The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a "planetary embryo" called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report.

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Mercury levels in rainfall are rising in parts of North America, study finds

An analysis of long-term trends in the amount of mercury in rainfall and other forms of precipitation in North America found recent increases at many sites, mostly in the center of the continent. At other sites, including those along the East Coast, mercury levels in rainfall have been trending steadily downward over the past 20 years.

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Monarchs’ Wings Yield Clues to Their Birthplaces

A newly published study of California’s overwintering monarch butterflies confirmed many previous migratory studies. But the findings also showed some unexpected and surprising patterns of movement, reports a research team led by the University of California, Davis.

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The aliens are silent because they're dead

Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists from The Australian National University (ANU).

In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realised new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.

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Environmental toxin may increase risk of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses

A new study published today in the science journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicates that chronic exposure to an environmental toxin may increase risk of neurodegenerative illness. Conducted by scientists at the Institute for EthnoMedicine, a non-profit medical research organization, and the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank, the study provides a foundation for future research in Alzheimer's disease, ALS and Parkinson's disease.

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Zebra stripes not for camouflage, new study finds

If you’ve always thought of a zebra’s stripes as offering some type of camouflaging protection against predators, it’s time to think again, suggest scientists at the University of Calgary and UC Davis.

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Caltech Researchers Find Evidence of a Real Ninth Planet

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

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NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015

Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.

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Livermore scientists find global ocean warming has doubled in the past 20 years

Lawrence Livermore scientists, working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (link is external) and university colleagues, have found that half of the global ocean heat content increase since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades.

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Follow a Live Planet Hunt!

A unique outreach campaign has been launched that will allow the general public to follow scientists from around the globe as they search for an Earth-like exoplanet around the closest star to us, Proxima Centauri. The observing campaign will run from January to April 2016 and will be accompanied by blog posts and social media updates. No one knows what the outcome will be. In the months following the observations, the scientists will analyse the data and submit the results to a peer-reviewed journal.

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UC Davis News: Alum and cancer survivor founds company to develop breast cancer test

A new test for invasive breast cancer has been developed by Angela Courtney, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of California, Davis. Courtney received her Ph.D. in integrative pathobiology from UC Davis in 2015, shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself.

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Will computers ever truly understand what we’re saying?

From Apple’s Siri to Honda’s robot Asimo, machines seem to be getting better and better at communicating with humans.

But some neuroscientists caution that today’s computers will never truly understand what we’re saying because they do not take into account the context of a conversation the way people do.

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New geological evidence aids tsunami hazard assessments from Alaska to Hawaii

New data for frequent large tsunamis at a remote island near Dutch Harbor, Alaska provides geological evidence to aid tsunami hazard preparedness efforts around the Pacific Rim. Recent fieldwork in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands suggests that a presently “creeping” section of the Aleutian Subduction Zone fault could potentially generate an earthquake great enough to send a large tsunami across the Pacific to Hawaii.

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Discovery shows dinosaurs may have been the original lovebirds

Dinosaurs engaged in mating behavior similar to modern birds, leaving the fossil evidence behind in 100 million year old rocks, according to new research by Martin Lockley, professor of geology at the University of Colorado Denver.

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Global mercury regulations to have major economic benefits for US

Mercury pollution is a global problem with local consequences: Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources travel around the world through the atmosphere, eventually settling in oceans and waterways, where the pollutant gradually accumulates in fish. Consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairments.

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King Kong was inflexible - The giant ape went extinct 100,000 years ago, due to its inability to adapt

Scientists from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment in Tübingen and from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt examined the demise of the giant ape Gigantopithecus. In their study, published recently in the scientific journal “Quaternary International,” they reach the conclusion that the presumably largest apes in geological history died due to their insufficient adaptability. Analyses of fossil tooth enamel show that the primates were restricted to forested habitats.

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'Spectre' villain fails neuroanatomy in latest Bond film

James Bond's nemesis in the most recent film likely failed neuroanatomy, said real-life neurosurgeon and scientist Dr. Michael Cusimano of St. Michael's Hospital.

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Religion has led to social tension and conflict dating back to 700 B.C.

Humans haven't learned much in more than 2,000 years when it comes to religion and politics.

Religion has led to social tension and conflict, not just in today's society, but dating back to 700 B.C. according to a new study published today in Current Anthropology.

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Earthrise Reimagined

On December 24, 1968, during a live Christmas Eve broadcast from orbit around the Moon, Apollo 8 astronauts shared a spectacular image of Earth rising on the lunar horizon. The image, known as Earthrise, offered us one of the first views of our planet as it appears from deep space. The photograph has become one of the most recognizable views of our home and is often credited with inspiring the nascent environmental movement to become a political force.

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Here comes the sun: Cellular sensor helps plants find light

Despite seeming passive, plants wage wars with each other to outgrow and absorb sunlight. If a plant is shaded by another, it becomes cut off from essential sunlight it needs to survive.

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Surface physics: How water learns to dance

Perovskites are materials used in batteries, fuel cells, and electronic components, and occur in nature as minerals. Despite their important role in technology, little is known about the reactivity of their surfaces. Professor Ulrike Diebold's team at TU Wien (Vienna) has answered a long-standing question using scanning tunnelling microscopes and computer simulations: How do water molecules behave when they attach to a perovskite surface? Normally only the outermost atoms at the surface influence this behaviour, but on perovskites the deeper layers are important, too. The results have been published in the prestigious journal 'Nature Materials'.

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mproving brain's garbage disposal may slow Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases

A drug that boosts activity in the brain's "garbage disposal" system can decrease levels of toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders and improve cognition in mice, a new study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has found. The study was published today in the online edition of Nature Medicine.

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Dogs give friends food

Compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, the human capacity for cooperation is something quite special. Cooperating with one another requires a certain amount of prosocial behavior. This means helping others without any direct personal benefit.

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