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+ - Telescope detects galaxy's oldest known solar system->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Astronomers have spotted the oldest known set of planets in the Milky Way, a quintet of hot and presumably rocky worlds that is more than twice as old as our solar system. The parent star of the planetary system is Kepler-444, a sunlike star about 117 light-years from Earth. All the planets lie within 12 million kilometers of their star and circle it in 10 days or less.Further study of the ancient system may shed light on the early days of planetary formation in the galaxy."
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+ - Childhood neglect erodes the brain->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In perhaps the most famous study of childhood neglect, researchers have closely tracked the progress, or lack of it, in children who lived as infants in Romania’s bleak orphanages and are now teenagers. A new analysis now shows that these children, who display a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems, have less white matter in their brains than do a group of comparable children in local families. The affected brain regions include nerve bundles that support attention, general cognition, and emotion processing. The work suggests that sensory deprivation early in life can have dramatic anatomical impacts on the brain and may help explain the previously documented long-term negative affects on behavior. But there’s some potential good news: A small group of children who were taken out of orphanages and moved into foster homes at age 2 appeared to bounce back, at least in brain structure."
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+ - Why sodium + water = classic classroom explosion->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Explosions are fun—ask any budding chemistry student. That’s why dropping a chunk of pure sodium into water is a classic classroom demonstration. The resulting violent reaction can produce impressive flames and a loud bang. Although the basic chemistry of the popular experiment has long been understood, the details were not. Now, scientists have captured the action using high-speed video cameras and discovered an unexpected trigger. Less than a millisecond after sodium and water meet, the sodium contorts into a sea urchin–like shape, growing spikes that shoot out into the water and initiate a runaway reaction."
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+ - 10 new Rosetta images reveal comet 67P in all its glory->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The first scientific results from Rosetta at comet 67P have been published, and they detail a surprising diversity of features on the 4-kilometer-long duck-shaped comet. The discoveries include images from Rosetta’s main science camera, OSIRIS, which reveal 67P to be a far more diverse place than anyone expected."
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+ - New nanoparticle drug stops cancer's spread in mice->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new nanotech therapy may help us fight cancer. When a person dies from cancer, the culprit isn't usually the original tumor — it's metastasis, the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. Now, researchers have managed to package a drug in nanoparticles so that it can target these cancer cells without, crucially, interfering with normal cells — and report that they've prevented cancer cells from metastasizing in mice."
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+ - 'Genetic firewall' holds engineered microbes captive->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Human-engineered microbes can cause big problems if they become contaminated by other microbes or viruses or escape into the environment. Now, a new type of microbe that can survive only on artificial nutrients promises better security against such mishaps. The new strategy might ultimately be used to control genetically engineered plants or other organisms released into the wild to create products or clean up pollution."
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+ - U.S. Senate set to vote on whether climate change is a hoax->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The U.S. Senate’s simmering debate over climate science has come to a full boil today, as lawmakers prepare to vote on measures offered by Democrats that affirm that climate change is real—with one also noting that global warming is not “a hoax.” In an effort to highlight their differences with some Republicans on climate policy, several Democrats have filed largely symbolic amendments to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. They are designed to put senators on the record on whether climate change is real and human-caused."
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+ - Scientists pinpoint 8 genes that determine brain size->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When it comes to brains, bigger is definitely better. Now, scientists have pinpointed 8 genes that help determine the size of key brain regions that influence everything from memory to motor control. These variants may represent “the genetic essence of humanity,” says Stephan Sanders, a geneticist and pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco."
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+ - Physicists figure out how to read scrolls scorched by Mount Vesuvius eruption->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 79 C.E., Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the city of Pompeii — and a nearby library filled with scrolls. We've been trying to unroll these scorched scrolls since the 1750's, but the risk of damage was just too high. Now, physicists have figured out how to read the scrolls using high-powered x-rays. By placing a rolled up scroll in the path of a beam of powerful x-rays produced by a particle accelerator, researchers can measure a key difference between the burned papyrus and the ink on its surface: how fast the x-rays move through each substance."
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+ - Are earthquakes also earth burps?->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An “excuse me” might be nice. Researchers have found that Earth belches a potent greenhouse gas known as tetrafluoromethane (CF4) during earthquakes and other tectonic events. The emissions likely aren’t making a significant contribution to global warming, but the findings could change the way scientists model future climate scenarios. They also complicate the use of CF4 as a way to measure how the continents and climate have changed over millennia."
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+ - Sewage sludge could contain millions of dollars worth of gold->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If the holy grail of medieval alchemists was turning lead into gold, how much more magical would it be to draw gold from, well, poop? It turns out that a ton of sludge, the goo left behind when treating sewage, could contain several hundred dollars’ worth of metals—potentially enough to generate millions of dollars worth of gold, silver, and other minerals each year for a city of a million people."
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+ - Belief that some fields require 'brilliance' may keep women out->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Certain scientific fields require a special type of brilliance, according to conventional wisdom. And a new study suggests that this belief, as misguided as it may be, helps explain the underrepresentation of women in those fields. The authors found that fields in which inborn ability is prized over hard work produced relatively fewer female Ph.D.s. This trend, based on 2011 data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, also helps explain why gender ratios don’t follow the simplified STEM/non-STEM divide in some fields, including philosophy and biology, they conclude."
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+ - Human language may have evolved to help our ancestors make tools->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If there’s one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, it’s our ability to use language. But when and why did this trait evolve? A new study concludes that the art of conversation may have arisen early in human evolution, because it made it easier for our ancestors to teach each other how to make stone tools—a skill that was crucial for the spectacular success of our lineage. The study involved getting a number of college students to try to make their own primitive stone tools, some using language, others not. The team discovered that only those that used language were able to make effective tools."
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+ - A new explanation for zebra stripes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Zebra stripes are a mystery. Scientists have speculated that they do everything from enabling the equids to evade predators by creating an optical illusion when a herd gallops away to regulating body heat to helping the animals avoid biting flies. But a new team of researchers argues that none of these hypotheses has addressed the marked regional variation in the pattern of striping seen on plains zebras, which range from southern Ethiopia to eastern South Africa. The scientists quantified the characteristics of stripes on zebras at 16 sites across the animals’ range and examined 29 environmental factors, including temperature, predation, and biting flies, searching for an association. The strongest correlation was between temperature and striping, they report. In areas with the lowest seasonal temperatures, zebras have fewer and fainter stripes. The scientists don’t know why this correlation exists, but suggest that it may be tied to heat regulation or to disease-carrying parasites harbored by tsetse flies."
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+ - Your computer knows you better than your friends do->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Are you a shy person with a snarky sense of humor who secretly craves hugs? You might be able to conceal that from your friends, but not from your computer. A new study of Facebook data shows that machines are now better at sussing out our true personalities than even our closest acquaintances."
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Quantum Mechanics is a lovely introduction to Hilbert Spaces! -- Overheard at last year's Archimedeans' Garden Party

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