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+ - A step closer to explaining high-temperature superconductivity?->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For years some physicists have been hoping to crack the mystery of high-temperature superconductivity—the ability of some complex materials to carry electricity without resistance at temperatures high above absolute zero—by simulating crystals with patterns of laser light and individual atoms. Now, a team has taken—almost—the next-to-last step in such "optical lattice" simulation by reproducing the pattern of magnetism seen in high-temperature superconductors from which the resistance-free flow of electricity emerges."
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+ - Xeroxed gene may have paved the way for large human brain->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Last week, researchers expanded the size of the mouse brain by giving rodents a piece of human DNA. Now another team has topped that feat, pinpointing a human gene that not only grows the mouse brain but also gives it the distinctive folds found in primate brains. The work suggests that scientists are finally beginning to unravel some of the evolutionary steps that boosted the cognitive powers of our species. “This study represents a major milestone in our understanding of the developmental emergence of human uniqueness,” says Victor Borrell Franco, a neurobiologist at the Institute of Neurosciences in Alicante, Spain, who was not involved with the work."
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+ - Banned weight-loss drug could combat liver disease, diabetes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A drug the U.S. government once branded “extremely dangerous and not fit for human consumption” deserves a second chance, a study of rats suggests. Researchers report that a slow-release version of the compound reverses diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an untreatable condition that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer."
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+ - DNA recovered from underwater British site may rewrite history of farming->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Hunter-gatherers may have brought agricultural products to the British Isles by trading wheat and other grains with early farmers from the European mainland. That’s the intriguing conclusion of a new study of ancient DNA from a now submerged hunter-gatherer camp off the British coast. If true, the find suggests that wheat made its way to the far edge of Western Europe 2000 years before farming was thought to have taken hold in Britain. The work confronts archaeologists “with the challenge of fitting this into our worldview,” says Dorian Fuller, an archaeobotanist at University College London who was not involved in the work."
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+ - New instrument peers even deeper than Hubble->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Over 10 days in December 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope took 342 images of the same tiny patch of sky in the constellation Ursa Major. The resulting data set, the Hubble Deep Field, revolutionized the study of the early universe by revealing the profusion of galaxies in that faint and distant era when the first galaxies were forming. Now, in a demonstration of how astronomy has moved on in the past 20 years, a team of European astronomers has produced a similar deep field observation in just 27 hours and already revealed more than Hubble was able to do. The new technology may lead to insights into galaxy evolution."
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+ - Monster black hole born shortly after big bang->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A team of astronomers has discovered what is, in galactic terms, a monstrous baby: a gigantic black hole of 12 billion solar masses in a barely newborn galaxy, just 875 million years after the big bang. It's roughly 3000 times the size of our Milky Way’s central black hole. To have grown to such a size in so short a time, it must have been munching matter at close to the maximum physically possible rate for most of its existence. Its large size and rate of consumption also makes it the brightest object in that distant era, and astronomers can use its bright light to study the composition of the early universe: how much of the original hydrogen and helium from the big bang had been forged into heavier elements in the furnaces of stars."
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+ - Artificial intelligence bests humans at classic arcade games->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The dream of an artificially intelligent computer that can study a problem and gain expertise all on its own is now reality. A system debuted today by a team of Google researchers is not clever enough to perform surgery or drive a car safely, but it did master several dozen classic arcade games, including Space Invaders and Breakout. In many cases, it surpassed the best human players without ever observing how they play."
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+ - The physics of sheep flocks->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "To study how sheep move in unison, researchers videotaped flocks of sheep entering a barn door to be fed. Predictably, the animals all scrambled to get in simultaneously, causing a farmyard traffic jam that slowed their progress through the door. As one might expect, when researchers widened the door, the congestion diminished. But a less obvious strategy had the same effect, the researchers explain in a paper published in the current issue of Physical Review E. Namely, they placed a wide post in front of the door that forced the sheep to go around either side. Scientists previously discovered this method of preventing blockages in flows of granular materials like sand, which exhibit some of the same dynamics as the motion of crowds: Pack too many sand grains into one space and they freeze up like a solid, instead of flowing smoothly like a liquid. By studying flows in systems like sand and sheep, scientists hope to find strategies for designing buildings to prevent dangerous human crowd situations, like stampedes."
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+ - Eating peanuts prevents allergy->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It may sound radical, but it works: Eating peanuts slashes the chance of a peanut allergy, at least in children at high risk of developing one, a much-anticipated study finds. The results are likely to catapult a long-standing theory—that ingesting potential food allergens is a way to prevent allergies—into mainstream medicine. “This is the study,” says Rebecca Gruchalla, a specialist in allergy immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who wasn’t involved in it. The data, she says, are “just mind-blowing.”"
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+ - Did dark matter kill the dinosaurs?->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Every so often, the fossil record shows, ecological disasters wipe large numbers of species off the face of Earth. These mass extinctions occur roughly every 26 million to 30 million years—about the same interval at which our solar system passes through the plane of the Milky Way. Putting two and two together, some researchers have proposed that clouds of dust and gas in the galactic plane might disrupt the orbits of far-flung comets and trigger planet-smacking collisions. A new study suggests an additional culprit may lie behind those times of woe: dark matter."
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+ - The best—and worst—places to drive your electric car->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For those tired of winter, you’re not alone. Electric cars hate the cold, too. Researchers have conducted the first investigation into how electric vehicles fare in different U.S. climates. The verdict: Electric car buyers in the chilly Midwest and sizzling Southwest get less bang for their buck, where poor energy efficiency and coal power plants unite to turn electric vehicles into bigger polluters."
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+ - Rapid test for Ebola now available->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first rapid diagnostic test for Ebola. The test needs no electricity, requires just a few drops of blood from a finger prick, and can return results in 15 minutes. That will be a huge help to health workers in remote areas. Current PCR-based tests require a blood sample taken by needle, secure transport of the blood to a properly equipped laboratory with trained staff, and at least several hours to return results. Depending on how far away a suspected case is from a testing laboratory, it can take more than a day to receive test results."
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+ - Human DNA enlarges mouse brains->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have increased the size of mouse brains by giving the rodents a piece of human DNA that controls gene activity. The work provides some of the strongest genetic evidence yet for how the human intellect surpassed those of all other apes. The human gene causes cells that are destined to become nerve cells to divide more frequently, thereby providing a larger of pool of cells that become part of the cortex. As a result, the embryos carrying human HARE5 have brains that are 12% larger than the brains of mice carrying the chimp version of the enhancer. The team is currently testing these mice to see if the bigger brains made them any smarter."
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+ - New Map Shows America's Quietest Places->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Based on 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring from places as remote as Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and as urban as New York City, scientists have created a map of noise levels across the country on an average summer day. After feeding acoustic data into a computer algorithm, the researchers modeled sound levels across the country including variables such as air and street traffic. Deep blue regions, such as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, have background noise levels lower than 20 decibels — a silence likely as deep as before European colonization, researchers say. That's orders of magnitude quieter than most cities, where noise levels average 50-60 decibels. The National Park Service is using the map to identify places where human-made noise is affecting wildlife."
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+ - Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS, two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight."
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