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+ - Members of previously uncontacted tribe infected with flu->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Brazil’s Indian affairs department has announced an event that many anthropologists and medical researchers had feared. In the remote Brazilian state of Acre, members of a long-isolated Amazon tribe have contracted influenza after making voluntary contact with the outside world a few weeks ago. Some researchers now fear that the contacted individuals will spread the potentially fatal virus to other nonimmunized members of their tribe."
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+ - What keeps stone arches from falling down?->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "People often wonder how delicate arches and finely balanced pillars of stone stand up to the stress of holding up their own immense weight. Actually, new research suggests, it’s that stress that helps pack individual grains of sand together and slows erosion of the formations. At large scale in the real world, stress transmitted through arches and pillars to their bases slows down—but doesn’t stop—natural sculpting due to wind and water, the researchers say. Bits of the landform that don’t bear weight are among the first to wear away, which helps explain why arches are often unusually smooth."
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+ - New map fingers future hot spots for U.S. earthquakes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Earthquake risk assessments can seem pretty abstract at first glance, with their “percent probabilities” and “peak ground accelerations.” But the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS’s) national hazard maps, updated periodically, pack a powerful punch: Insurance companies and city planners rely heavily on the maps, which influence billions of dollars in construction every year. Today, USGS scientists released the most recent earthquake hazard assessments for the country. Although the picture hasn’t changed much on a national scale since the last report in 2008, the devil is in the details, the report’s authors say—and some areas in the country are now considered to be at higher risk for powerful quakes than once thought."
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+ - Report: Climate changing more rapidly than at any point on record->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new look at the “vital signs” of Earth’s climate reveals a stark picture of declining health. As global temperatures rise, so do sea level and the amount of heat trapped in the ocean’s upper layers. Meanwhile, mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting away beneath an atmosphere where concentrations of three key planet-warming greenhouse gases continue to rise. “Data show that the climate is changing more rapidly now than it has at any time in the historical record,” says Thomas Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. “The numbers speak for themselves.”"
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+ - Computer learns to distinguish hundreds of birdsongs->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If you’re a bird enthusiast, you can pick out the “chick-a-DEE-dee” song of the Carolina chickadee with just a little practice. But if you’re an environmental scientist faced with parsing thousands of hours of recordings of birdsongs in the lab, you might want to enlist some help from your computer. A new approach to automatic classification of birdsong borrows techniques from human voice recognition software to sort through the sounds of hundreds of species and decides on its own which features make each one unique. More rudimentary programs have been developed before, but this is the first one that actually learns to distinguish one song from another."
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+ - Star Trek "warp drive" crushes diamonds to dust->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The world’s largest laser, a machine that appeared as the warp core in "Star Trek into Darkness", has attained a powerful result: It's squeezed diamond, the least compressible substance known, 50 million times harder than Earth's atmosphere presses down on us. The finding should help scientists better understand how material behaves at the great pressures that prevail deep inside giant planets."
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+ - Sexual harassment is common in scientific fieldwork->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Universities and other workplaces have codes of conduct guarding against sexual harassment. But what about the more casual venue of scientific fieldwork—which is also a workplace? A new survey finds that sexual harassment and assaults occur frequently in the field, with little consequence for the perpetrators or explicit prohibitions against such conduct. The study reveals that the primary targets were young women who were harassed, assaulted, and even raped by men who were usually senior to them in rank, although men also reported harassment."
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+ - Flying dinosaur had longest known tail->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new type of flying dinosaur has been found in northeastern China. The creature was about 1.2 meters long and had feathers on all four limbs. Its feathery tail, which takes up about 30% of its total length, is the longest known among flying dinosaurs. The creature weighed 4 kilograms, making it among the heaviest flying dinosaurs known. As for its long tail, the dino probably used it to slow itself down when descending, thus avoiding crash landings."
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+ - Hardcore pot smoking could damage the brain's pleasure center->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It probably won’t come as a surprise that smoking a joint now and then will leave you feeling pretty good, man. But smoking a lot of marijuana over a long time might do just the opposite. Scientists have found that the brains of pot abusers react less strongly to the chemical dopamine, which is responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and reward. Their blunted dopamine responses could leave heavy marijuana users living in a fog—and not the good kind."
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+ - Elite group of researchers rule scientific publishing->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Publishing is one of the most ballyhooed metrics of scientific careers, and every researcher hates to have a gap in that part of his or her CV. Here’s some consolation: A new study finds that very few scientists—fewer than 1%—manage to publish a paper every year. But these 150,608 scientists dominate the research journals, having their names on 41% of all papers. Among the most highly cited work, this elite group can be found among the co-authors of 87% of papers. Students, meanwhile, may spend years on research that yields only one or a few papers. “[I]n these cases, the research system may be exploiting the work of millions of young scientists,” the authors conclude."
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+ - Hair-raising technique detects drugs, explosives on human body->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "That metal ball that makes your hair stand on end at science museums may have a powerful new use. Scientists have found a way to combine these Van de Graaff generators with a common laboratory instrument to detect drugs, explosives, and other illicit materials on the human body. In the laboratory, scientists had a volunteer touch a Van de Graaff generator for 2 seconds to charge his body to 400,000 volts. This ionized compounds on the surface of his body. The person then pointed their charged finger toward the inlet of a mass spectrometer, and ions from their body entered the machine. In various tests, the machine correctly identified explosives, flammable solvents, cocaine, and acetaminophen on the skin."
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+ - Physicists spot potential source of 'Oh-My-God' particles->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For decades, physicists have sought the sources of the most energetic subatomic particles in the universe—cosmic rays that strike the atmosphere with as much energy as well-thrown baseballs. Now, a team working with the Telescope Array, a collection of 507 particle detectors covering 700 square kilometers of desert in Utah, has observed a broad "hotspot" in the sky in which such cosmic rays seem to originate. Although not definitive, the observation suggests the cosmic rays emanate from a distinct source near our galaxy and not from sources spread all over the universe."
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+ - Ancient bird had wingspan longer than a stretch limousine->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Fossils unearthed at a construction project in South Carolina belong to a bird with the largest wingspan ever known, according to a new study. The animal measured 6.4 meters from wingtip to wingtip, about the length of a 10-passenger limousine and approaching twice the size of the wandering albatross, today’s wingspan record-holder. Like modern-day albatrosses, the newly described species would have been a soaring champ."
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+ - Gravity measurements can predict river flooding ->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When ground water saturates a river basin, the risk for flooding goes up. So does the strength of Earth’s gravity in that region, ever so slightly, because of the extra mass of the underground water. By using tiny variations in gravity detected from space, researchers report online today in Nature Geoscience that they can identify basins that are primed for flooding if additional rains come—sometimes with several months' warning."
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+ - People would rather be electrically shocked than left alone with their thoughts->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "How much do we hate being alone with our own thoughts? Enough to give ourselves an electric shock. In a new study, researchers recruited hundreds of people and made them sit in an empty room and just think for about 15 minutes. About half of the volunteers hated the experience. In a separate experiment, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to push a button and shock themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think. One of the study authors suggests that the results may be due to boredom and the trouble that we have controlling our thoughts. “I think [our] mind is built to engage in the world,” he says. “So when we don’t give it anything to focus on, it’s kind of hard to know what to do.”"
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