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Ariane 5 space rocket blasts off in French Guiana to deliver satellite payload – video

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 05:29

A European Arianespace rocket was successfully launched from a South American spaceport on Thursday on a mission to deliver two new communications satellites into orbit. The unmanned Ariane 5 rocket left Guiana space center with a payload that includes the Eutelsat 8 West B satellite and the Intelsat 34 satellite

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Saturn moon shot in 'best resolution ever' by Nasa spacecraft – video

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 03:43

Nasa sheds new light on Saturn moon Dione, with pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft on its latest close approach on Monday. Nasa says the grey, black and white images show Dione’s icy terrain in ‘the best resolution ever’ and are the result of shadows cast in sunlight reflecting off Saturn

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Aztec skull trophy rack discovered at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor ruin site

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-08-21 03:10

Such racks, or tzompantli, were used to display severed heads of sacrifice victims on wooden poles, and this one is made partly of skulls mortared together

Archaeologists say they have have found the main trophy rack of sacrificed human skulls at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor Aztec ruin site.

Racks known as “tzompantli” were where the Aztecs displayed the severed heads of sacrifice victims on wooden poles pushed through the sides of the skull. The poles were suspended horizontally on vertical posts.

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Study: common form of breast cancer may warrant less aggressive treatment

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 22:07

‘We’re not suggesting a do-nothing, wait-and-see approach,’ says lead researcher in study of more than 100,000 women with breast cancer of the milk duct

Women who are treated for what has come to be considered a non-invasive breast cancer of the milk duct could need less treatment – not more – a new study of more than 100,000 women indicates.

The study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology this week, found that women treated for ductal carcinoma in situ, a group of abnormal cells found in the milk duct, were not significantly less likely to die of breast cancer than women on average. Some patients who received radiation therapy actually fared worse, especially if the treatment was on the left side.

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Readers recommend: songs about mood-changing music | Peter Kimpton

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 20:00

A rush of joy? Or moved to tears? Suggest songs with lyrics that refer to other songs or music that can bring about a change in state of mind or emotion

“As soon as I hear a sound, it always suggests a mood to me,” said Brian Eno. As an artist who works in many forms, including an endlessly shifting visual project created with designer Nick Robertson, 77 Million Paintings, he is an experimentalist fascinated by constantly shifting nuances and states of mind. But all music changes mood to a greater or lesser extent. Our moods are constantly on the move. As often as philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle put it, with a calm perspective: “There are good and bad times, but our mood changes more often than our fortune.”

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Genetic switch makes fat cells burn energy rather than store it

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 19:25
We now know how to turn fat cells into ones that burn calories as heat rather than store them – raising the prospect of a gene therapy for obesity

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Scientists reject claims of lab-grown mini human brain

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 18:55
It made headlines, but a claim to have cultured a nearly fully formed brain is "entirely unjustified", say neuroscientists contacted by New Scientist

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Watery time capsule hints at how life got started on early Earth

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 17:20
Water locked away in rocks for 1.5 billion years reveals conditions were right for complex organic molecules to form in deep sea hydrothermal vents

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Existence of cosmic neutrinos confirmed by Antarctic scientists

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 16:07

Neutrinos, created by violent phenomena such as black holes and exploding stars, could hold the key to the universe’s most distant and mysterious events

Antarctic scientists have confirmed the existence of cosmic neutrinos – ghostly particles that have traveled from the Milky Way and beyond. These particles carry messages from distant galaxies, and could potentially help solve several cosmic puzzles.

Related: A good week for neutrinos: highest-power beam delivers oscillations, space delivers highest energy

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Pesticides linked to bee decline for first time in a countrywide field study

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 15:56

Landscape-wide research by former UK government agency on oilseed rape fields in England and Wales shows link between neonicotinoids and honeybee colony losses

A new study provides the first evidence of a link between neonicotinoid pesticides and escalating honeybee colony losses on a landscape level.

The study found the increased use of a pesticide, which is linked to causing serious harm in bees worldwide, as a seed treatment on oilseed rape in England and Wales over an 11 year period correlated with higher bee mortality during that time.

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Metamaterial wormhole teleports magnetic fields across space

New Scientist - news - Thu, 2015-08-20 15:27
Better MRI scanners could result from a trick in which a magnetic field springs up from nowhere, using materials famous for their link to invisibility cloaks

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Fake It 'Til You Make It: art and science in perfect harmony

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 12:46

Trying to balance entertainment and facts has been the downfall of many an artist. But Bryony Kimmings’ latest work shows it can be done with panache

How do you make theatre which effectively communicates information without producing something that makes the audience wish they’d bought tickets to Wicked instead? As the Guardian’s science production editor I see a lot of what is termed “science communication”. It’s something of a buzzphrase which can mean anything from the slightly misfiring videos which caused a furore last week to the Large Hadron Collider’s arts residencies. Sometimes wonderful pieces of art are created; more often, yes, we wish we were drinking an overpriced G&T and marvelling at flying monkeys instead.

This balance of art and information is something which performance artist Bryony Kimmings manages extremely well, without resorting to the trappings of Oz. Her much-lauded 2013 Edinburgh show, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, took on what she labels “the tween-machine”: the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood. Her latest show, Fake It ’Til You Make It, tackles the issues around mental health in men, and does so in typically personal style through the lens of her partner Tim Grayburn’s clinical depression.

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Can the humble fruit fly help create a flourishing African scientific community?

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 11:03

A small institute in Kampala is cultivating a regional network of researchers, using an inexpensive lab model based on the fruit fly

African biomedical scientists face important challenges – poor training, poorer infrastructure and scarce resources.

Related: Higher Education in Africa: Our continent needs science, not aid

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How do you catch a wombat? In a giant butterfly net of course – video

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 07:45

PhD students at the University of Tasmania are netting bare-nosed wombats as part of their research into sarcoptic mange, which can cause localised extinction. Among other things, they hope to determine how the disease was introduced to Australia. Once caught, the wombats are anaesthetised, put in sacks and taken in for testing and assessment, then released back into the wild where they were found

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Bad vibrations: what's the evidence for geopathic stress?

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 07:00

Some people think that vibrations rising up out of the earth can cause anything from road rage to cancer, but where’s the evidence for such an extraordinary claim?

I have a confession to make. For a brief time when I was about ten years old, I thought I could move a quartz crystal with the power of my mind. I was on holiday in North Wales, and I’d got it from a gift shop from a small-town attraction whose name I can no longer recall. Quartz crystals have a certain sort of captivating beauty about them, and this one was no exception; it was attached to a length of leather cord, and looked like it would fit right at home as a trinket from an epic fantasy novel. When I got back to the caravan we were staying with, I was holding it, staring at it, when it seemed to move for no apparent reason. Curious, and ever-hopeful that something magical would happen to make the holiday something other than banal, I wondered whether I could make it happen again. So I held the top of the cord as still as I could, and tried to imagine the crystal swinging in a circle. And it did. For a brief moment, anyway. I think.

Obviously, I don’t have any magical psychic powers – no one does. What I was experiencing was the ideomotor effect – I was simply making the swinging motion myself, without realising it. I didn’t know the term when I was ten years old, but after repeating the experiment a few times, and not getting a consistent swing, I nevertheless came to the same conclusion that nothing out of the ordinary was happening. And so the holiday plodded on.

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Nefertiti archaeologist invited to Egypt over theory of hidden tomb

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 01:31

Nicholas Reeves says scans of walls inside Tutankhamun’s burial chamber suggest resting place of legendary queen may be hidden on the other side

Related: Queen Nefertiti dazzles the modern imagination – but why?

An Egyptologist who has said Queen Nefertiti’s crypt may be hidden behind King Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings has been invited to Cairo to defend his theory.

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Narcolepsy medication modafinil is world's first safe 'smart drug'

Guardian Science - Thu, 2015-08-20 00:00

Increasingly taken by healthy people to improve focus before exams, after a comprehensive review researchers say modafinil is safe in the short-term

Modafinil is the world’s first safe “smart drug”, researchers at Harvard and Oxford universities have said, after performing a comprehensive review of the drug. They concluded that the drug, which is prescribed for narcolepsy but is increasingly taken without prescription by healthy people, can improve decision- making, problem-solving and possibly even make people think more creatively.

While acknowledging that there was limited information available on the effects of long-term use, the reviewers said that the drug appeared safe to take in the short term, with few side effects and no addictive qualities.

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Potential sources of helium revealed, as reserves of the precious gas dwindle

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-08-19 23:00

Helium, used in nuclear, medical and, yes, party industries, has become scarce, but new research has revealed a possible way to pinpoint fresh sources

A few years ago, we were warned that the world’s helium reserves were running out. Today, researchers announced there may be several potential new sources of the precious gas hidden throughout the world.

Helium, which is used widely in nuclear, medical and party industries, has become worryingly scarce. Despite it being the second most abundant element in the universe, here on Earth it’s rare - it is so light that it leaks away into space – and our major resources are running low.

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FDA approval of 'female Viagra' leaves bitter taste for critics

Guardian Science - Wed, 2015-08-19 19:27

Addyi gains US marketing licence after third attempt, but questions remain about its effectiveness, potential side-effects and the true need for the drug

It is the small pink pill that its manufacturers hope will do for women what Viagra did for men. The decision to give the drug a marketing licence in the US has been cheered on by campaigners for women’s rights, but the question remains whether Addyi is the breakthrough medicine claimed.

Men have the blue diamond-shaped Viagra pill and 25 others (although 17 of those are forms of testosterone), while there has until now been no counterpart for women. But sex and relationship therapists say Addyi is only moderately effective, should not be taken with alcohol, and has potentially serious side-effects. Trials showed that Addyi gave women who took it daily one extra sexually satisfying experience per month.

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Turning CO2 from air into car parts may help carbon capture pay

New Scientist - news - Wed, 2015-08-19 19:02
Atmospheric CO2 can be turned into carbon nanofibres for high-tech uses a method that may also hold promise for profitable carbon capture

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