Science news

Our eye sockets give us a wider field of view than other apes

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 14:00
The unique positioning of our eyes within our skulls may have played a part in our early evolution









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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says humans will be robots' pets

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:42

Humans will be taken care of like pets should robots take over because AI will want to preserve us as part of nature

Apple’s early-adopting, outspoken co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks humans will be fine if robots take over the world because we’ll just become their pets.

After previously stating that a robotic future powered by artificial intelligence (AI) would be “scary and very bad for people” and that robots would “get rid of the slow humans”, Wozniak has staged a U-turn and says he now thinks robots taking over would be good for the human race.

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Big pharma attempts to cast off bad reputation by targeting the poor

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:06

Pharmaceutical companies are creating new business models to meet the needs of the global poor. Is it enlightened self-interest or calculated profiteering?

Big pharma isn’t known for its fair dealing in the global South. Infamously, the high cost of patented HIV antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the early 2000s priced out developing countries and millions died. Patent wars still rage, notably in India and South Africa, as the industry attempts to maintain monopolies on life-saving drugs.

So why is pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (AZ) funding an 18-month pilot with five separate NGOs in Kenya to improve health services for hypertension patients and discounting its core hypertension drugs by 90% in the process? Is big pharma finally getting serious about meeting the needs of the global poor?

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HIV epidemic will rebound dramatically without more funding, warn experts

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 12:47

Analysis by UNAids and Lancet Commission highlights ‘fragile window of opportunity’ to maintain progress on curbing deaths and infections

The world could see the HIV epidemic rebound dramatically if countries fail to increase funding and expand access to drugs in the next five years, according to a major report.

The analysis, by the UNAids and Lancet Commission, highlights a “fragile window of opportunity” for maintaining progress on curbing deaths and infections and suggests that progress made during the past decade could easily be reversed.

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Grexit may be averted but threat to eurozone stability remains

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 12:42
Even if a bailout deal is agreed, dangers remain – the European network has inherent weaknesses, and greater wealth inequality may just make it worse









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Big universe, big data, astronomical opportunity

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 12:09

The future of astronomy is not in acquiring new data, but in mining the old

Astronomical data is and has always been “big data”. Once that was only true metaphorically, now it is true in all senses. We acquire it far more rapidly than the rate at which we can process, analyse and exploit it. This means we are creating a vast global repository that may already hold answers to some of the fundamental questions of the Universe we are seeking.

Does this mean we should cancel our up-coming missions and telescopes – after all why continue to order food when the table is replete? Of course not. What it means is that, while we continue our inevitable yet budget limited advancement into the future, so we must also simultaneously do justice to the data we have already acquired.

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Algorithm zeroes in on origins of disease outbreaks

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 11:30
In disease outbreaks, "patient zero" is the original carrier – but they can be hard to find. Now a new algorithm can help









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Papa do preach: The pope is a key ally against climate change

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 09:00
The Vatican's moral authority will help mobilise people on global warming, say climate science veterans Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Partha Dasgupta and Peter Raven (full text available to subscribers)







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Insomnia, anxiety, break-ups … musicians on the dark side of touring

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 08:00

Long hours in vans and solitary hotel rooms. Screaming fans when you’re on stage, then back home to feed the cat. Musicians talk about the psychological dangers of life on tour

While many may envisage the life of a touring musician to be that of a glorified jetsetter, the reality is far from idyllic. A recent study by charity Help Musicians UK found that over 60% of musicians have suffered from depression or other psychological issues, with touring an issue for 71% of respondents.

Singer Alanna McArdle recently announced her departure from Cardiff punk band Joanna Gruesome for mental health reasons, her statement hinting that the strain of touring may have been a factor in her decision to quit.And when Zayn Malik broke the hearts of millions by pulling out of One Direction’s tour of Asia – leaving the boy band shortly after – a source close to the band told the tabloid press: “Zayn went because he’d had enough. Have you ever been on the road for four years? ”

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Freeze young men's sperm to avoid genetic disorders, says scientist

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 07:58

Bioethicist says older men’s seminal fluid contains greater number of mutations that could pose a risk to future offspring

Younger men should consider freezing their sperm to avoid their children having genetic disorders if they choose to have them later in life, according to a bioethics expert.

Freezing eggs from women planning families when they are older is not unusual, but bioethicist Kevin Smith, of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology at Abertay University in Dundee, believes freezing should also be considered for sperm to avoid the risk of “gradually reducing human fitness in the long term”.

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Good egg: rare specimen discovered after 100 years in a drawer

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 07:04

When curator Alan Knox came across a rare egg in a museum drawer he just had to figure out its story

Name: ABDUZ: 70169
Species:
Rhinoptilus bitorquatus
Dates:
1917
Claim to fame: The only known egg of Jerdon’s courser
Where now:
Zoology Museum, University of Aberdeen

Alan Knox was checking museum’s store room for insects when he found the egg. There, in an uncatalogued drawer of oological specimens, was a label that caught his eye.

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Eight things you think are true – but science scoffs at

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 07:00

The five-second rule won’t save you from germs and the blue whale isn’t actually the earth’s largest living organism

From star signs to homeopathy, humans believe in strange things. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the incoming president of the Royal Society, recently described us as being “intrinsically prone to being irrational”. He pointed out that science has a role in countering this, which got me thinking about the common myths that persist, in spite of scientific evidence telling us otherwise. While not quite in the same league as astrology and homeopathy – two bugbears of Venki and scientists the world over – I hope this odd collection of not-so-conventional wisdom will at least right some small wrongs.

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How to count invisible people

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-06-25 07:00

How do you estimate the size of hidden populations? Dr Ruth King explains here, an excerpt from her talk tonight in the London Mathematical Society’s prestigious Popular Lecture series

In theory the question “How many…?” is a very simple one. After all, we just need to be able to count.

In fact, this question is often extremely difficult to answer:

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Sexism isn't just bad for scientists - it hurts science too

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 07:00
The Tim Hunt furore is a stark reminder that inequality in the lab needs addressing. And not just for the important reason of social justice







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For an easier birth, stop thinking about it

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 00:01
Civilisation is robbing women of their capacity to give birth naturally, warns obstetrician Michel Odent (full text available to subscribers)







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What is artificial blood and why is the UK going to trial it?

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-06-25 00:01
As it struggles to recruit more blood donors, the UK's National Health Service has announced it will start testing transfusions with lab-grown blood by 2017







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Plantwatch: Roadside wonders

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-06-24 21:30

Roadside verges are one of our great wild plant refuges. They are only narrow strips of land, but verges along our major roads total an area the size of the Isle of Wight. And they provide a home to more than 700 species of plants, almost half the native flora of Britain, with some of the last habitats left for many wild flowers, especially meadow plants – which is why the charity Plantlife is campaigning to get verges looked after better to encourage these wild plants.

Many of the roadside plants are flowering now, such as the familiar red clover, common buttercup, brilliant white oxeye daisy and the tall rosebay willowherb with its distinctive clusters of purply-red flowers. There are even rare flowers, such as the green-winged orchids on the M40 in Buckinghamshire, the Deptford pink in Devon and Worcestershire and wood bitter-vetch in Powys.

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Get ready for the leap second – it could be the last one ever

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-06-24 20:00
On Tuesday night the clocks will stand still at 23:59:60 to keep our time in sync with the universe. But does our high-speed world demand a new solution? (full text available to subscribers)







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An uphill struggle could help you go from heartsick to fighting fit | Letters

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-06-24 19:19

Thank you for the article by Luisa Dillner (How do you mend a broken heart?, 8 June). I am grateful that some solutions of how to deal with heartache are shown. The one I like best is the suggestion of doing sports to get over your ex: “The endorphins released during exercise are nature’s own brand of pain relief.” I always feel better after a challenging workout, even without heartache. Most people experiencing serious heartache feel like never leaving their beds again. Instead, more of them should be made aware of the fact that sport can help them recover. Your mental health will benefit from the endorphin rush as well as your physical health.

Later in the article, Dillner presents the advice that “rapidly beginning a new relationship is actually good for your self-esteem and also weans you off your ex”. I find this outcome of the empirical study – which is done on students – interesting, but it has to be differentiated between starting a new relationship and dating someone for fun. Personally, although the attention of men might be charming, I do not agree with the suggestion that starting a new relationship could help to get over the last. My experience is that it takes half of the amount of time of your broken relationship to recover sufficiently.
Lisa Krause
Ingolstadt, Germany

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Glowing world of rainbow corals found in the Red Sea

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-06-24 19:00
Corals that switch from green to deep red when exposed to ultraviolet light could provide a new toolkit for biomedical imaging







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