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Submission + - More evidence to support quantum theory's 'spooky action at a distance'->

sciencehabit writes: It’s one of the strangest concepts in the already strange field of quantum physics: Measuring the condition or state of a quantum particle like an electron can instantly change the state of another electron—even if it’s light-years away. That idea irked the likes of Albert Einstein, as it suggests that something can travel faster than light and that reality is somehow determined by the measurements we make. But now, a team of experimenters says it has clinched the case for this concept, sealing up loopholes in previous demonstrations. The work could even lead to the design of unhackable computers.
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Submission + - Death of beloved polar bear, Knut, solved->

sciencehabit writes: In 2011, the Berlin Zoological Garden suffered a tragic loss when internationally adored polar bear Knut had an unexpected seizure and drowned. An autopsy found that swelling in Knut’s brain, known as encephalitis, caused the seizure. But the exact cause of the swelling has remained mysterious. Today in Scientific Reports, researchers announce the culprit: Knut suffered from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease thought to exist only in humans. Scientists hope that because the disease is treatable in humans, they’ll be able to diagnose and treat animals in captivity before it kills them.
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Submission + - Crayfish create a new species of female 'superclones'->

sciencehabit writes: What happened to the slough crayfish is every macho man's nightmare. A genetic glitch allowed one female to begin cloning herself, and because these females are larger and more prolific, they started to take over. A new study argues that these clones constitute a new species—one where every individual is genetically identical.
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Submission + - Scientific papers with shorter titles get more citations->

sciencehabit writes: They say never judge a book by its cover, but a new study suggests that you may be able to predict the popularity of a scientific paper from the length of its title. Brevity, it turns out, appears to earn a paper a little more attention. Articles with shorter titles tend to get cited more often than those with longer headers, concludes a study published today, which examined 140,000 papers published between 2007 and 2013. It appears in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
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Submission + - 'Winged monster' on ancient rock art debunked by scientists->

sciencehabit writes: When archaeological chemist Marvin Rowe recently scrambled up a narrow ledge in southeast Utah’s Black Dragon Canyon, he was determined to put an end—once and for all—to a lingering debate that has pitted rock art researchers and archaeologists against young-Earth creationists for decades. With his x-ray fluorescence gun in hand, he braced himself against the cliff face’s red rock and focused on the source of the conflict: a faded ancient rock painting soaring several yards above the dusty canyon floor. Some claim the image is that of a dragon or pterodactyl, but researchers have long maintained that it’s something far more mundane.
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Submission + - Secretive fusion company makes reactor breakthrough-> 1

sciencehabit writes: In a suburban industrial park south of Los Angeles, researchers have taken a significant step toward mastering nuclear fusion—a process that could provide abundant, cheap, and clean energy. A privately funded company called Tri Alpha Energy has built a machine that forms a ball of superheated gas—at about 10 million C—and holds it steady for 5 milliseconds without decaying away. That may seem a mere blink of an eye, but it is far longer than other efforts with the technique and shows for the first time that it is possible to hold the gas in a steady state—the researchers stopped only when their machine ran out of juice.

“They’ve succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system,” says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palp Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. If the company’s scientists can scale the technique up to longer times and higher temperatures, they will reach a stage at which atomic nuclei in the gas collide forcefully enough to fuse together, releasing energy.

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Submission + - Is a universal flu vaccine on the horizon?->

sciencehabit writes: Every fall, millions of people roll up their sleeves for a flu vaccine, hoping to give their immune system a leg up on influenza. But the flu virus has thousands of strains that mutate and evolve across seasons, and the vaccine can’t guard against all of them. Now, two groups of researchers have independently created vaccines that lay the groundwork for a long-sought shot that could protect against every type of flu.
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Submission + - Powerful painkillers can now be made by GM yeast—are illegal drugs next?->

sciencehabit writes: Move over, poppies. In one of the most elaborate feats of synthetic biology to date, a research team has engineered yeast with a medley of plant, bacterial, and rodent genes to turn sugar into thebaine, the key opiate precursor to morphine and other powerful painkilling drugs that have been harvested for thousands of years from poppy plants. The team also showed that with further tweaks, the yeast could make hydrocodone, a widely used painkiller that is now made chemically from thebaine.

“This is a major milestone,” says Jens Nielsen, a synthetic biologist at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden. The work, he adds, demonstrates synthetic biology’s increasing sophistication at transferring complex metabolic pathways into microbes.

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Submission + - Spoken language could tap into 'universal code'->

sciencehabit writes: We know a lot about language, but we know very little about how speech developed. Did we start with gesturing and grunts? Beating our chests and pointing? Most linguists agree that some combination of movement and sound probably got us started. But how did we decide which sounds to use for various words? Now, an experimental game has shown that speakers of English might use qualities like the pitch and volume of sounds to describe concepts like size and distance when they invent new words. If true, some of our modern words may have originated from so-called iconic, rather than arbitrary, expression—a finding that would overturn a key theory of language evolution.
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Submission + - Group targets cat and dog research using novel crowdsourcing campaign->

sciencehabit writes: Using an unusual crowdsourcing technique to generate hundreds of public records requests, an animal advocacy group claims it has uncovered evidence that an Ohio State University (OSU) lab has violated National Institutes of Health (NIH) rules concerning the use of dogs in biomedical research. The university has denied the charges—and provided ScienceInsider with evidence to the contrary—but the group’s effort is just its first salvo in a unique campaign designed to end all research on dogs and cats.

The new strategy could cause a headache for animal researchers across the country, says Michael Halpern of Union of Concerned Scientists, who authored a report earlier this year on activists using open records laws to target academics in hot-button fields such as climate change and genetically modified foods.

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Submission + - Our early solar system may have been home to a fifth giant planet->

sciencehabit writes: A cluster of icy bodies in the same region as Pluto could be proof that our early solar system was home to a fifth giant planet, according to new research. That planet may have “bumped” Neptune during its migration away from the sun 4 billion years ago, causing the ice giant to jump into its current orbit and scattering a cluster of its satellites into the Kuiper belt in the outer solar system.
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Submission + - Antlike robots might help explain origins of cooperation->

sciencehabit writes: Biologists have long marveled over the complex social behaviors seen among insects such as bees and ants, where different groups of individuals specialize in different tasks. Now, a team of roboticists has managed to emulate the cooperation strategy of leafcutter ants with computer simulations of small, four-wheeled robots. The result could lead to swarms of robots that team up and organize with minimal human intervention and could shed light on how cooperation evolved in animals.
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Submission + - Internet search engines may be influencing elections->

sciencehabit writes: “What we’re talking about here is a means of mind control on a massive scale that there is no precedent for in human history.” That may sound hyperbolic, but Robert Epstein says it’s not an exaggeration. Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research in Vista, California, has found that the higher a politician ranks on a page of Internet search results, the more likely you are to vote for them. 80% more likely in some cases. The story also suggests that the folks at Google may already be influencing elections. “Google’s algorithm has been determining the outcome of close elections around the world,” says Epstein.
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Submission + - Amid agony, scientists discover world's first venomous frog->

sciencehabit writes: Brazilian biologists have discovered the world’s first venomous frog the hard way. When Carlos Jared of the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, picked up a Brazilian hylid frog—a small, lumpy, green amphibian—while doing fieldwork in a jungle in the Goytacazes National Forest near the southwest coast of Brazil, the frog raked the spines hidden within its upper lip across his hand. He dropped the frog, and excruciating pain shot up his arm for the next 5 hours. Several other species of frogs are poisonous, but until now none have been shown to be venomous—that is injecting a toxin into their host. C. greening’s venom is twice as potent as that of the deadly pit viper, the researchers report.
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Submission + - Mars scientists tap ancient river deltas and hot springs as 2020 rover targets->

sciencehabit writes: Mars scientists today nominated 8 enticing targets for NASA’s next rover, due for launch in 2020. More than 100 planetary scientists narrowed down a list of 21 sites with a vote at the conclusion of a three-day workshop in Monrovia, California. The researchers were keen to find sites that could preserve signs of life in rocks which would be sampled by the rover and, they hope, eventually returned to Earth.

The top vote getter was Jezero Crater, which contains a relic river delta that could have concentrated and preserved organic molecules. “The appeal is two-fold,” says Bethany Ehlmann, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Not only is there delta, but the rocks upstream are varied and diverse.”

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