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Shopping vouchers 'most effective' way to help pregnant women stop smoking

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 11:33

One-fifth kicked the habit before giving birth when receiving financial incentives in a Cambridge university study, more than twice the rate using traditional services

Pregnant women are more likely to stop smoking if they are given shopping vouchers as a financial incentive, according to scientists.

The study found that one-fifth of women in the scheme had stopped smoking by the time they gave birth, more than twice the rate achieved using traditional support services.

People have this attitude of ‘why should the feckless poor who smoke their head off during pregnancy be rewarded?'

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HIV prevention finally has a game-changer, and it’s called Truvada

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 11:01
If the NHS and policymakers are bold, it could spell the end for HIV in the UK Continue reading...






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Putting animals online: Does it protect or destroy?

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-02-26 10:46
Even in the digital realm, observation and conservation make uncomfortable bedfellows






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Those classic Atari games were harder than you think

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 09:05

Google’s artificial intelligence studio Deep Mind has created a computer program that can play Pong. Here is why that feat is more impressive than it sounds

So a computer program has learned how to play classic Atari games. Big deal. I mean, they’re just big blocks of pixels pushing smaller blocks of pixels around a screen, right?

Yet somehow, the UK artificial intelligence specialist Deep Mind, bought last year by Google for £240m, is extremely excited about the fact that it has developed an AI agent capable of learning how to play Space Invaders. I learned how to play Space Invaders in a cafe in Blackpool when I was six. But Google hasn’t acquired me. What’s going on?

Related: Google develops computer program capable of learning tasks independently

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UK should be given power to regulate GM crops, MPs say

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 06:01

Science and technology committee damns EU rules on authorisations for genentically-modified crops as politicised and unscientific

The UK should be handed the regulatory power to green light genetically-modified crops because the EU’s GM rules are politicised and unscientific, an influential committee of MPs have said.

A new report from the committee is damning of regulatory delays caused by the EU’s consideration of GM under a ‘precautionary principle’ which obliges caution where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain.

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In the Beat of a Heart by John Whitfield – review

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 06:00

A book that beautifully explores the astonishing variety and complexity of life iterated across the species in an attempt to answer the biggest question of all: why is life the way it is?

This is a book that addresses fabulous and life-enhancing themes. It is written beautifully enough to take your breath away, even as its author writes about trying not to hyperventilate. A book through which ideas, energy and food for thought cycle across every page; a book that attempts to address the biggest questions of all: why is life the way it is, why are big things so different from small things, why are there so many creatures and if that’s the wrong question, why are there so few?

But first, a spoiler. The questions are enormous but the answers are ultimately inconclusive. Few arguments are clinched, or cases closed. That is no fault of the book. Some questions are hard to answer because life’s like that.

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Australian researchers create first 3D-printed jet engine

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 05:56

Development hailed as a potential breakthrough in aircraft manufacture after university-CSIRO joint project prints two gas turbine engines

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Drying out of vast inland lakes may have caused Australia's megafauna extinction

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 02:40

New research suggests loss of giant wombats and other species about 50,000 years ago could have been caused by changing climate, rather than hunting as previously thought

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Avycaz: US approves superbug antibiotic

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 02:16

Treatment to become available from second quarter of 2015, offering hope in fight against resistant bacteria

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Black hole 12bn times more massive than sun is discovered

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 00:35

Scientists name new ‘object’ SDSS J0100+2802 and say it is 12.8bn light years from Earth and was formed just 900m years after the Big Bang

A monster black hole powering “the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe” has been discovered that is 12bn times more massive than the sun, scientists have revealed.

The extraordinary object is at the centre of a quasar - an intensely powerful galactic radiation source - with a million billion times the sun’s energy output.

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Russia outlines plans to build national space station after ISS ends in 2024

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-02-26 00:33

Moscow assures it will continue funding the International Space Station until 2024 but will then disconnect its modules to build a national base

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has revealed plans to build an orbiting outpost and land cosmonauts on the moon once the International Space Station (ISS) is mothballed next decade.

In an official statement, Roscosmos pledged its support for the ISS until 2024 but outlined plans to disconnect its modules soon after, and use them to build a Russian space station in its place.

This is excellent news, especially when read between the rhetoric. ISS is a key global symbol. http://t.co/laz0dSutdT pic.twitter.com/qo9qiGlmq1

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Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, by Cédric Villani - Times Higher Education

Marcus du Sautoy news - Thu, 2015-02-26 00:05

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, by Cédric Villani
Times Higher Education
In recent years, a number of eminent mathematicians have written popular books about their practice, notably Marcus du Sautoy (Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey through Symmetry) and, more recently, Edward Frenkel (Love and Math: The ...

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On this day: The first ever Grand National - Scotsman

Marcus du Sautoy news - Thu, 2015-02-26 00:03

Scotsman

On this day: The first ever Grand National
Scotsman
Sandie Shaw, singer, 68; Erykah Badu, singer, 44; Michael Bolton, singer, 62; Lynda Clark, QC, Baroness Clark of Calton, Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland, 66; Fats Domino, R&B singer and pianist, 87; Carmen Du Sautoy, actress, 65; David ...

Categories: Marcus du Sautoy

Kenya's electrified route to human-wildlife harmony

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-02-25 23:00
A vast electric fence is being erected around Mount Kenya, one of the world's great refuges for wildlife. Will it help people and animals coexist?






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Plantwatch: Snowdrops are in their element

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-02-25 21:30

The cold weather hasn’t helped bring on spring flowers, but lesser celandines are coming into bloom, especially in southern England. These relatives of buttercups have glossy yellow flowers and heart-shaped leaves, and the flowers also have the uncanny knack of swivelling round to track the sun like little solar energy dishes, trapping the sun’s warmth to entice early insects into the flower; but when skies turn overcast and rain threatens the petals close shut.

Snowdrops are now at their best and most widespread in many damp places, especially in wet woods and on the banks of streams, their drooping white bell flowers nodding and swaying in the wind and smelling sweet of vanilla or honey. They are able to survive the cold of winter and flower so early because they grow from bulbs, and most colonies of snowdrops in Britain reproduce by their bulbs dividing, rather than being pollinated by insects.

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World first: bionic hands controlled by the mind - video

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-02-25 21:08
Three Austrian men have become the first in the world to be fitted with bionic hands that are able to be controlled by the mind. The men suffered severe injuries in vehicle and climbing accidents which damaged vital nerves and lead to hand amputations. Videos released by the Lancet medical journal show the men, equipped with their new prosthetics, carrying out everyday activities such as pouring liquid, lifting objects and undoing buttons Continue reading...






Categories: Science news

Why your brain needs touch to make you human

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-02-25 20:00
Being touchy-feely isn't just nice – caresses build social worlds from families to sports teams and may even give us our sense of self (full text available to subscribers)






Categories: Science news

Drug-resistant malaria poised to cross into India

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-02-25 19:00
Resistance to vital antimalarial drugs called artemisinins has spread across Burma to the Indian border. If not contained, it could ultimately hit Africa hard






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First full body transplant is two years away, surgeon claims

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-02-25 18:50

Doctor plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body using procedures he believes will soon be ready

A surgeon says full-body transplants could become a reality in just two years.

Sergio Canavero, a doctor in Turin, Italy, has drawn up plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body and claims the procedures needed to carry out the operation are not far off.

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Google develops computer program capable of learning tasks independently

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-02-25 18:36

‘Agent’ hailed as first step towards true AI as it gets adept at playing 49 retro computer games and comes up with its own winning strategies

Google scientists have developed the first computer program capable of learning a wide variety of tasks independently, in what has been hailed as a significant step towards true artificial intelligence.

The same program, or “agent” as its creators call it, learnt to play 49 different retro computer games, and came up with its own strategies for winning. In the future, the same approach could be used to power self-driving cars, personal assistants in smartphones or conduct scientific research in fields from climate change to cosmology.

Related: Those classic Atari games were harder than you think

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