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+ - Hoax-detecting software spots fake papers->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 2005, three computer science Ph.D. students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a program to generate nonsensical computer science research papers. The goal was “to expose the lack of peer review at low-quality conferences that essentially scam researchers with publication and conference fees.” The program—dubbed SCIgen—soon found users across the globe, and before long its automatically generated creations were being accepted by scientific conferences and published in purportedly peer-reviewed journals. But SCIgen may have finally met its match. Academic publisher Springer this week is releasing SciDetect, an open-source program to automatically detect automatically generated papers. SCIgen uses a “context-free grammar” to create word salad that looks like reasonable text from a distance but is easily spotted as nonsense by a human reader"
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+ - Stone-age Italians defleshed their dead->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Seven thousand, five hundred years ago in Italy, early farmers practiced an unusual burial ritual known as “defleshing.” When people died, villagers stripped their bones bare, pulled them apart, and mingled them with animal remains in a nearby cave. The practice was meant to separate the dead from the living, researchers say, writing in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity."
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+ - One thousand genes you could live without->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Today researchers unveiled the largest ever set of full genomes from a single population: Iceland. The massive project, carried out by a private company in the country, deCODE genetics, has yielded new disease risk genes, insights into human evolution, and a list of more than 1000 genes that people can apparently live without. The project also serves as a model for other countries’ efforts to sequence their people’s DNA for research on personalized medical care, says study leader Kári Stefánsson, deCODE’s CEO. For example, the United States is planning to sequence the genomes of 1 million Americans over the next few years and use the data to devise individualized treatments."
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+ - Black holes blast starmaking material right out of galaxy->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Think of it as solar wind on steroids. Powerful gales from supermassive black holes in the center of galaxies can blast gas and other raw materials right out of the galaxy, robbing it of the raw materials needed to make new stars, a new study suggests. The new findings should help astronomers refine their models of how galaxies evolve, the researchers say."
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+ - How to make a square snowflake->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If you zoom in on a snowflake, you'll see its six-sided symmetry mirrored at the molecular level. As water freezes, its molecules typically arrange themselves in a repeating pattern of hexagons, the geometry that forms the snowflake's star-shaped structure. Now, scientists have created a new type of ice they call "square ice," which forms a cube-shaped pattern instead, with water molecules arranged in neatly aligned rows. The result could be useful for understanding the movement of water when squeezed inside tiny channels, for instance, in carbon nanotubes or cell membranes. And if these crystals formed on a larger scale, they would make square snowflakes, instead of six-sided ones."
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+ - Jupiter destroyed 'super-Earths' in our early solar system->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If Jupiter and Saturn hadn’t formed where they did—and at the sizes they did—as the disk of dust and gas around our sun coalesced, then our solar system would be a very different and possibly more hostile place, new research suggests. Computer models reveal that in the solar system’s first 3 million years or so, gravitational interactions with Jupiter, Saturn, and the gas in the protoplanetary disk would have driven super-Earth–sized planets closer to the sun and into increasingly elliptical orbits. In such paths, a cascade of collisions would have blasted any orbs present there into ever smaller bits, which in turn would have been slowed by the interplanetary equivalent of atmospheric drag and eventually plunged into the sun. As Jupiter retreated from its closest approach to the sun, it left behind the mostly rocky remnants that later coalesced into our solar system’s inner planets, including Earth."
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+ - How long would it take you to fall through Earth?->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Suppose you dug a tunnel through the center of Earth, jumped in, and let gravity pull you through. How long would it take you to reach the other side of the planet? For decades, physics students have been asked to calculate that time and have been taught that the correct answer is 42 minutes. Now, a more realistic analysis has lopped 4 minutes off that estimate."
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+ - Stellar merger caused 17th century cosmic explosion->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 1670, a Carthusian monk discovered a "new star," or nova, near the constellation Cygnus, pointing out to his fellow monks a star that did not appear on maps of the sky. Now astronomers report that this nova, CK Vulpeculae, had an unusual cause: The explosion probably occurred when two stars orbiting each other spiraled together and merged into one. The molecules contain lots of isotopes that arise during nuclear reactions, so they likely spilled out of the stellar interiors when the stars joined together. Astronomers have recently discovered that rare "red novae"—named for their color—result when stars merge; now the aftermath of the 17th century nova indicates what such stellar mergers look like centuries later."
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+ - A fish makes a tongue out of water->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Using a group of high-speed cameras and x-ray videos, the scientists observed the strange way mudskipper fish feeding in the laboratory. Their analysis showed that the fish carry mouthfuls of water up onto the land and then expel the water at the moment they lunge at their prey. The water allows the fish to form an airtight seal and generate enough suction to move the water and their meal back toward the esophagus. Furthermore, the motion of a bone in the fishes’ throat, known as the hyoid, closely resembles that of other terrestrial animals, especially newts, which use true tongues to eat. The authors suggest that the mudskipper’s “hydrostatic” tongue may serve as the evolutionary bridge that allowed our aquatic ancestors to begin feeding on land."
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+ - Puzzle of Darwin's 'strangest animals' finally solved->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Charles Darwin called them perhaps the “strangest animal[s] ever discovered.” And evolutionary biologists have puzzled ever since over where to place certain odd-looking extinct South American hooved animals in the mammalian branches of the tree of life. Now, new molecular evidence from proteins preserved in fossilized bones reveals that the mammals—including Macrauchenia, a leggy animal that looked like a fat camel with a short elephantlike trunk, and Toxodon, a stout beast with a rhinoceroslike body and a hippolike head—are most closely related to horses, tapirs, and rhinos, and not to African elephants as had previously been suggested. The work not only solves this evolutionary conundrum; it also demonstrates the ability of an emerging technique to shed light on remains from distant eras."
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+ - Speaking a second language may change how you see the world->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Where did the thief go? You might get a more accurate answer if you ask the question in German. How did she get away? Now you might want to switch to English. Speakers of the two languages put different emphasis on actions and their consequences, influencing the way they think about the world, according to a new study. The work also finds that bilinguals may get the best of both worldviews, as their thinking can be more flexible."
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+ - Mysterious 'snow carrots' observed at meteorite impact sites->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In February 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteorite streaked across the early morning sky over western Russia. The bulk of the body exploded high in the atmosphere, but many smaller fragments survived and rained down onto the snow-covered ground. This week, researchers report that some of the impacts carved out strange funnel-shaped “carrots” in the snow. Initially, researchers had speculated that the carrot shapes may have been caused by hot fragments that melted the snow during the impact, but the simulations showed that the fragments would have had ample time to cool to atmospheric temperatures before reaching the ground. Instead, the strange funnels appear to be formed mostly by mechanical forces."
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+ - Scientists may have solved mystery of dwarf planet's enigmatic bright spot->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A mysterious bright spot on Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, is looking more and more like ice—and could even be emitting water vapor into space on a daily basis, researchers report. The bright spot, simply called feature #5, had been noticed before by the Hubble Space Telescope as sitting within an 80-kilometer-wide crater. But the Dawn spacecraft, which went into orbit around Ceres on 6 March, is now close to resolving the feature, which is less than 4 kilometers wide. Andreas Nathues, principal investigator for Dawn’s framing camera, says the feature has spectral characteristics that are consistent with ice. Intriguingly, the brightness can be seen even when the spacecraft is looking on edge at the crater rim, suggesting that the feature may be outgassing water vapor above the rim and into space."
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+ - New compound quickly disables chemical weapons->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes."
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