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Clusters of living worlds would hint life came from outer space

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Using future telescopes to map exoplanets where life may exist could help test the panspermia theory – that life can cross space and take root on new worlds









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Megafauna extinction: DNA evidence pins blame on climate change

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Humanity has long been on trial for the demise of mammoths and other large mammals – new forensic evidence reveals the true killer









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Leading climate scientist: future is bleaker than we thought

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Will this century bring massive sea-level rises and powerful superstorms? The world's most renowned climate scientist thinks so - although others disagree









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What would happen if a massive comet crashed into the sun?

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Most comets that brush past the sun end with a whimper, but if a big one plunges into the sun it could go out with a bang









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Four-legged fossil holds secret of snake’s slithering origins

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
An ancient animal with a serpent-like body plan and four tiny legs could reveal details about the evolutionary origins of snakes









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ButtonMasher: The gamers who only want to explore virtual worlds

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Bigger and more complicated games have spawned a new way of playing – where finding and sharing images is more important than completing a mission









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Living lasers made by injecting oil droplets into human cells

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Individual cells can be made to act like tiny lasers, offering a more accurate way to tag and monitor tumour cells, among other uses









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Interpreting body language is no problem for kids with autism

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
Autistic children are just as good at reading emotions from the body as those without – they just don't like the closeness that interpreting emotions from faces requires









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Resistant bacteria don’t just evade drugs – they are fitter too

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
When bacteria acquire antibiotic-resistance genes they become better at surviving in the body, challenging the dogma that resistance comes with a cost









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Plague may not be solely to blame for Black Death’s mortality

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 18:00
About 60 per cent of the European population succumbed to the Black Death – perhaps because health in general was in poor shape in the 14th century









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Your sexual fantasies: the results are in

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 17:37

One man wants to service soldiers on leave, one woman was taught about multiple orgasms during an episode of The Antiques Roadshow . . . what happened when 10,000 people were asked to share their deepest desires?

When it comes to sex, there’s no such thing as a simple question. Even the most basic inquiry soon turns out to be loaded. Most sex surveys start by asking the respondent whether they are male or female. Why not female or male? And what about all the other options – all the people who would describe themselves as neither or both? Why do surveys always ask people what they do with their bodies, instead of asking what they don’t – and why not? And how are we to deal with the peculiar fact that most sex exists only in memory; or, these days, on mobile phones.

My latest foray into this minefield – entitled Excuse Me, Would You Mind If I Asked You a Few Personal Questions About Sex? – is currently on display at the Wellcome Collection in London. The installation takes its cue from the pioneering scientists and statisticians whose work is documented in the collection’s larger show, The Institute of Sexology: Freud, Stopes, Mead, Masters and Johnson. It basically does what they all did: asks total strangers a lot of embarrassing questions. The idea is that you sit down at the end of the sexology show with a questionnaire, answering whichever of its 25 posers you fancy, then drop your answers into a padlocked box. This gets emptied once a week and a team of readers and myself select some of the most thought-provoking (and of course anonymous) thoughts about the nation’s sex life for immediate publication on the gallery walls.

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Earth now halfway to UN global warming limit

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 16:15
The UN wants to limit warming to 2 °C, but we are already halfway to this threshold, exclusive analysis for New Scientist finds









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GlaxoSmithKline CEO: business stabilising despite China slowdown

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 16:03

Pharmaceutical company reported better than expected second-quarter results of £5.9bn, although Chinese sales fell 14%

The GlaxoSmithKline CEO, Sir Andrew Witty, said the Chinese drug market has slowed down dramatically over the past year but insisted that the drugmaker’s own business there is stabilising, as it unveiled second-quarter results that beat City expectations thanks to strong sales of new HIV drugs.

Witty also flagged up 40 new drugs and vaccines that are in mid- to late-stage development, half of which are expected to be on the market or filed for regulatory approval by 2020. He highlighted a new shingles vaccine, as well as treatments for chronic lung disease, severe asthma, anaemia and heart disease.

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Humans accidentally created hidden carbon sink in the desert

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 15:14
The salty aquifers beneath deserts may be storing more carbon than all living plants put together, according to new data from arid regions of China









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Do aliens believe in God?

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 14:00

Readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts

If there is intelligent life out there, what are the chances that it might believe in God (or the gods)?

Tim Bowden, China

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First MERS vaccine to be tested in monkeys shows promise

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-07-29 13:53
After an outbreak of MERS in South Korea and fears of the virus coming to the UK, a vaccine gives hope – but its effectiveness in humans remains uncertain









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Eight-year-old boy becomes youngest patient to receive double-hand transplant - video

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 10:18
An eight-year-old boy from Baltimore who lost his hands and feet to a serious infection is the youngest patient to receive a double-hand transplant. A 40-person medical team used steel plates and screws to attach the old and new bones. Surgeons the Philadelphia children's hospital then painstakingly reconnected Zion Harvey's arteries, veins, muscles, tendons and nerves. Doctors say Harvey will spend several weeks in physical rehab at the hospital before returning home Continue reading...









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Life's big surprises: two videos and a question

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 08:00

Nick Lane’s and Matthew Cobb’s talks on their engrossing books about cracking the secrets of life and the genetic code are now available on video and have brought to mind an intriguing question…

At the weekend I reviewed two superlative volumes of popular science, The Vital Question by Nick Lane and Life’s Greatest Secret by Matthew Cobb. Lane dives to the ocean depths to pick apart the energetics of the chemistry that is likely to have given birth to life on Earth, while Cobb’s book is a masterful telling of the ideas, experiments and personalities that eventually cracked the genetic code.

Those tantalised by the books may be pleased to learn that both authors spoke about their subjects at the Royal Institution back in June and the videos of these short talks (which I attended) are now available at the RI Channel. I can recommend both presentations for anyone doubtful about the excitement of ideas conveyed by these two books.

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Ant-managers: tiny toilers follow any leader to haul heavy loads, study finds

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 04:15

Groups of ants working together to carry objects change their tactics whenever a new individual joins in with a better idea, scientists find

Related: Ants on New York City's streets survive on junk food and meat, study finds

Related: Penguin robot helps researchers get close and personal

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Virgin Galactic pilot tells of falling from the sky after SpaceShip Two broke up

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-07-29 03:02

Peter Siebold found himself plummeting through the frozen air after co-pilot pulled the wrong lever, destroying craft

Related: Virgin Galactic crash: co-pilot unlocked braking system too early, inquiry finds

Free-falling miles above the desert, his test spaceship ripped to pieces and the frigid air hard to breathe, pilot Peter Siebold struggled through crippling injuries to turn on his oxygen and just to stay conscious.

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