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Misbehaving pulsar's sudden slow-down may teach us how they tick

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-06-29 18:00
A bright young pulsar that seemed to be stable has slammed on its brakes. Understanding this shift in behaviour could help astronomers calibrate cosmic clocks









Categories: Science news

Russian cosmonaut beats record for career time spent in space

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-06-29 17:40

Gennady Padalka moves past old record of 803 days, nine hours and 41 minutes, and aims to return to try for 1,000 days

A Russian cosmonaut on board the International Space Station has broken the record for total time in space by spending more than two years in orbit during his career.

At 1.42am Moscow time on Monday, Gennady Padalka, the commander of the current space station mission, broke his countryman Sergei Krikalev’s record of 803 days, nine hours and 41 minutes.

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Computer comedian suggests pics to make your online chat funnier

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-06-29 16:46
Software that makes you seem funnier by suggesting amusing images to use during online chat could pave the way to more human-like AI









Categories: Science news

A spoonful of sugar helps the environmental message go down

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-06-29 14:32
Gastronomic artists at New York's IDEAS CITY festival have been whipping up interest in the air we breathe









Categories: Science news

How same-sex marriage could ruin civilisation | Dean Burnett

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-06-29 12:47

In the wake of the US supreme court ruling that legalised same-sex marriage throughout America, many commenters and objectors have claimed it will have disastrous consequences. But rather than just dismissing them as irrational bitterness, it’s important to consider the genuine scientific basis for such claims

Same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the USA. This is a good thing, it’s always nice when people get equal treatment under the law. Sadly, not everyone agrees. Such is the speed of modern news and communication that announcement of the Supreme Court decision was essentially immediately followed by furious objections and doom-laden predictions of the collapse of society for various reasons.

It’s easy to dismiss these objections as angry incoherent bitterness from people who can’t or won’t accept that the rest of the human race doesn’t have to conform to their antiquated views, and many people do just that. But what if they’re not? What if there are genuine scientific reasons to fear same-sex marriage? After all, we in the UK know that same-sex marriage caused extreme flooding when it was legalised here, and now that it’s permitted in a country with the size and influence of the USA the consequences could be even more catastrophic. Here are just some possibilities we should brace ourselves for.

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Categories: Science news

Zoologger: The vertebrate that digs the deepest nest

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-06-29 12:00
An Australian monitor lizard digs a looping tunnel 3-metres deep to provide its eggs with the most stable environment seen among reptiles









Categories: Science news

SpaceX rocket explosion is setback for US crewed space missions

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-06-29 11:26
Hopes that privately built rockets can restart crewed space flight from US soil have taken a blow with a Falcon 9 failure within minutes of launch









Categories: Science news

Xeno-canto: crowdsourcing the world's birdsongs | @GrrlScientist

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-06-29 11:04

Xeno-canto, which hosts the largest collection of bird sound recordings in the world, recently celebrated its tenth anniversary

My favourite source for the birdsong recordings that I embed into my stories is Xeno-canto. This online community, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, hosts a large database filled with hundreds of thousands of crowdsourced bird sound recordings that are freely available to the public as uploads or embeds.

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The dangers of Disney’s film about Charles Darwin | Philip Ball

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-06-29 09:00
Faced with a man so misunderstood, a ‘swashbuckling’ biopic about the naturalist could go horribly wrong. Here are a few blunders best avoided

The news that Disney is planning an “adventure film” about Charles Darwin sounds at first blush rather ominous. The idea that Darwin had “a bit of that Indiana Jones-like swashbuckling spirit in him”, as noted in the report on the Hollywood-watching website Deadline, only heightens suspicions that the mild-mannered naturalist will be seen fighting off pirates and wrestling giant iguanas on the Galápagos. But it would be unfair to write off the project – to be directed by Stephen Gaghan, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic – before we know anything more about it. Disney has at least shown itself now capable of producing more than sweet, passive princesses.

Related: Disney incubating new Charles Darwin movie

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Green-fingered teachers: how to grow fruit and vegetables in school

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-06-29 07:00

The joys of growing fruit and vegetables in school go beyond filling bellies, there are lots of educational benefits too

There’s nothing more satisfying than harvesting your own crops at school. As the first plums of the season ripen on trees and tiny cabbages appear between leaves, students can feast both their eyes and their bellies, on the fruits of their labour.

But there are also a wide range of educational benefits to going green, from teaching about photosynthesis and the life of a plant to seasonal poetry and creative writing, the topic can be explored in a variety of classes.

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Categories: Science news

Hope or despair? The highs and lows of saving seabirds

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-06-29 07:00
From saving the migratory paths of endangered knots to establishing new colonies of puffins, two new books show the tough challenges bird conservationists face









Categories: Science news

Famous baby giant armadillo found dead

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-06-29 06:28

After two years of recording the surprising relationship between a baby giant armadillo and its mother, scientists have found the juvenile dead in the Brazilian Pantanal.

For almost two years, Alex the giant armadillo has been the most famous of his little-known and cryptic species. Born in June of 2013, photos and videos of Alex appeared across the global media, including the BBC, National Geographic and Mongabay. From Alex and his mother, Isabelle, researchers learned that giant armadillos are far more parental and familial than long believed.

Two weeks ago, researchers found Alex dead.

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Starwatch: The July night sky

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 21:30

Britain’s night-long summer twilight begins to subside in July so that lucky starwatchers under a dark sky may be able to glimpse the Milky Way as it arches high across the E at our map times from the Scorpius-Sagittarius region in the S towards Cassiopeia and Auriga in the NNE. On the way, it flows through the familiar Summer Triangle formed by Deneb, Altair and (brightest of all) Vega.

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Nasa SpaceX mission to International Space Station ends in explosion

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 18:55
  • Administrator: ‘We will work with SpaceX to understand what happened’
  • Dragon spacecraft was carrying supplies and station docking adaptor

Nasa and the International Space station suffered a “big loss” on Sunday, when the launch of a SpaceX supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) ended in an explosion that destroyed an unmanned Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket propelling it.

A video posted to Instagram showed the explosion. Reports said pieces of the spacecraft and rocket could be seen falling into the Atlantic Ocean.

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Categories: Science news

Medical marijuana arrives next week in Minnesota – but smoking it is banned

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 17:34

Under new rules that set the state apart from others, patients will have to stick with pills and oils, and the drug will only be sold in eight locations

There will be no baggies of pot awaiting patients next week, when Minnesota joins 21 other states in offering medical marijuana. No glass pipes, no plants to tend at home. Instead, the nation’s latest medical marijuana programme is a world of pill bottles and vials of marijuana-infused oil.

For the qualifying patients seeking relief from pain, medical marijuana advocates and some lawmakers, Wednesday isn’t the finish line, but the first step. The state’s restrictive approach, unseen in the industry, is likely to mean high costs, long drives and reluctant doctors.

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Nasa SpaceX rocket explodes moments after launch – video

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 16:34
A SpaceX supply mission rocket explodes shortly after lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Sunday. The spacecraft, which was powered by a Falcon 9 rocket, was carrying food and hardware bound for the International Space Station, including a docking adaptor intended to facilitate future commercial space missions. The craft was unmanned and broke up over the Atlantic ocean Continue reading...









Categories: Science news

Country air could be good for us because it's slightly poisonous

New Scientist - news - Sun, 2015-06-28 11:00
Forest and seaside walks may benefit us by exposing us to low doses of natural toxins that our ancient ancestors once breathed in, says toxicologist Mike Moore (full text available to subscribers)









Categories: Science news

Violent videos show apes may have sense of right and wrong

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 08:06

Apes paid more attention to film clips of an infant chimp being killed by its own kind than other acts of violence

Chimpanzees may have a sense of right and wrong that echoes human concepts of morality, a study has found.

Two groups of the apes paid more attention to film clips of an infant chimp being killed by its own kind than clips showing other acts of violence.

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Marketing has discovered neuroscience, but the results are more glitter than gold

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 07:00
The idea behind neuromarketing is that the brain can reveal hidden and profitable truths, but this is misleading

Marketing has discovered neuroscience and the shiny new product has plenty of style but very little substance. “Neuromarketing” is lighting up the eyes of advertising executives and lightening the wallets of public relations companies. It promises to target the unconscious desires of consumers, which are supposedly revealed by measuring the brain. The more successful agencies have some of the world’s biggest brands on their books and these mega-corporations are happy to trumpet their use of brain science in targeting their key markets. The holy grail of neuromarketing is to predict which ads will lead to most sales before they’ve been released but the reality is a mixture of bad science, bullshit and hope.

First, it’s important to realise that the concept of neuroscience is used in different ways in marketing. Sometimes, it’s just an empty ploy aimed at consumers – the equivalent of putting a bikini-clad body next to your product for people who believe they’re above the bikini ploy. A recent Porsche advert apparently showed a neuroscience experiment suggesting that the brain reacts in a similar way to driving their car and flying a fighter jet, but it was all glitter and no gold. The images were computer-generated, the measurements impossible, and the scientist an actor.

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Psychosis isn't catching but burnout is a risk for many caring professionals

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-06-28 07:00

Staff regularly dealing with traumatic situations are at risk of mental health issues, employers must ensure they are well supported

“Is it catching?” asked a member of staff at music therapy charity Key Changes after several months of working with people diagnosed with psychosis.

“Of course psychosis isn’t catching,” says Pete Leigh, founder of the charity, “but those of us working in such environments have to look after ourselves and each other to avoid being deeply affected.”

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