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+ - Ancient magma plumbing found buried below moon's largest dark spot->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Scientists have found a nearly square peg underneath a round hole—on the moon. Several kilometers below Oceanus Procellarum, the largest dark spot on the moon’s near side, scientists have discovered a giant rectangle thought to be the remnants of a geological plumbing system that spilled lava across the moon about 3.5 billion years ago. The features are similar to rift valleys on Earth—regions where the crust is cooling, contracting, and ripping apart. Their existence shows that the moon, early in its history, experienced tectonic and volcanic activity normally associated with much bigger planets."
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+ - Sea monkeys may stir the world's oceans->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The tiny swirls created by brine shrimp and other minuscule aquatic creatures could mix the seas’ upper layers as well as winds and waves do, a new study suggests. Such “biomixing” could play an important role in redistributing heat, salt, and nutrients in the upper layers of the ocean. However, some researchers question how effectively biomixing blends the waters of the wave-thrashed sunlit surface with those from the cool, calm depths. The work comes thanks to blue and green lasers, which were used to induce thousands of 5-millimeter-long brine shrimp to “migrate” to and from the bottom of a 1.2-meter-deep tank."
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+ - Sounds you can't hear can still hurt your ears->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A wind turbine, a roaring crowd at a football game, a jet engine running full throttle: Each of these things produces sound waves that are well below the frequencies humans can hear. But just because you can’t hear the low-frequency components of these sounds doesn’t mean they have no effect on your ears. Listening to just 90 seconds of low-frequency sound can change the way your inner ear works for minutes after the noise ends, a new study shows."
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+ - Underwater landslide may have doubled 2011 Japanese tsunami->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An underwater landslide the size of the Paris may have triggered the worst of the tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, a new study claims. In the new study, researchers worked back from details of the ocean surface motion recorded by gauges along the Japanese shore on the day of the earthquake. Much as sound waves can help the ear pinpoint the source of a gunshot and whether a small pistol or a large cannon fired it, tsunami waves carry the imprint of the ocean floor disturbance that created them. The team concludes that during the earthquake a slab of sediment 20 km by 40 km and up to 2 km thick slid about 300 meters down the steep slope of Japan Trench, “acting like a piston.”"
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+ - Fossil feces tell ancient human cultures apart->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "On Vieques Island off the coast of Puerto Rico, two ancient South American tribes coexisted for more than 1000 years, from 5 to 1170 C.E. The Saladoids were known for their white and red painted pottery, as well as their openness to learning from other cultures. The Huecoids, in contrast, were mysterious craftsmen who skillfully carved semiprecious stones and kept to themselves. For the past 20 years, archaeologists have debated whether the two tribes belonged to the same culture or distinct cultures with origins in present-day Venezuela and Bolivia, respectively. So researchers resorted to coprolites—fossilized feces excavated from the tribes’ settlements. The ancient dung, contains gut microbes that provide clues to the two populations’ diets. After extracting and analyzing DNA at the core of the coprolites, the researchers found that although both tribes consumed seafood, only the Saladoid samples contained freshwater fish parasites, suggesting that the tribe consumed raw fish regularly. The Huecoids, on the other hand, showed a preference for maize and fungi. The tribes’ distinct diets suggest that they indeed belonged to different cultures, the researchers report."
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+ - U.S. asks universities to flag risky pathogen experiments->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Academic scientists with federal funding who work with any of 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will soon have to flag specific studies that could potentially be used to cause harm and work with their institutions to reduce risks, according to new U.S. government rules released today. The long-awaited final rule is similar to a February 2013 draft and is “about what we expected,” says Carrie Wolinetz, a deputy director of federal relations at the Association of American Universities (AAU) in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 60 major research universities. Those schools see the rules as replicating other federal security and safety rules, Wolinetz says, but will adjust to them. But some observers have concerns, such as that the rules do not apply to other risky biological agents. In a conference call with reporters today, a White House official said the government is open to a “broader discussion” about whether it should expand the list of 15 regulated agents."
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+ - Fukushima radiation still poisoning insects->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than thought—at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time."
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+ - The science of the floating arm trick->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Press the backs of your hands against the inside of a door frame for 30 seconds—as if you’re trying to widen the frame—and then let your arms down; you’ll feel something odd. Your arms will float up from your sides, as if lifted by an external force. Scientists call this Kohnstamm phenomenon, but you may know it as the floating arm trick. Now, researchers have studied what happens in a person’s brain and nerve cells when they repress this involuntary movement, holding their arms tightly by their sides instead of letting them float up. Understanding what's going on could help people repress other involuntary movements—including the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease and the tics associated with Tourette syndrome."
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+ - Fossil records first known limb regeneration->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have found the earliest evidence for limb regeneration in the fossil record. Rocks unearthed in southwestern Germany have captured 300-million-year-old relatives of the salamander that have one or more regrown limbs. The finding shows that the constant ability to regenerate whole limbs is not unique to modern salamanders, contrary to traditional assumptions. The researchers suggest that this process may have a shared genetic basis that evolved early in the amphibian lineage (and was lost or modified in later species with limited or no regenerative ability), and that part of this foundation may even be a primitive characteristic of four-legged animals in general."
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+ - 'Space bubbles' may have led to deadly battle in Afghanistan->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new study reveals that one of the bloodiest battles for U.S. forces in Afghanistan may have been caused by "space bubbles". In early 2002, a rescue mission went awry because a U.S. command post was unable to radio one of its helicopters about mistaken coordinates. The chopper ended up being shot down by the same al-Qaida forces that necessitated the rescue mission in the first place. Now scientists say that turbulent pockets of ionized gas may have deflected the military satellite radio signals enough to cause temporary communications blackouts in the region--and thus prevented the warning from getting to the rescue helicopter. The mission turned into a 17-hour firefight, costing seven lives."
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+ - Big bang finding from earlier this year may be dead->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A beleaguered claim that appeared to reveal the workings of the big bang may instead say more about how science is done in an age of incessant news coverage. In March, researchers working with a specialized telescope at the South Pole, known as BICEP2, reported extremely faint pinwheel-like swirls in the afterglow of the big bang—the so-called cosmic microwave background (CMB). They claimed they had found traces of gravitational waves rippling through the infant universe—direct evidence that the newborn cosmos had undergone a bizarre exponential growth spurt known as inflation. But the supposed signal might have been emitted by warm dust within our own galaxy, others argued. Now, data from the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft show that dust accounts for some, and possibly all, of the BICEP signal."
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+ - Anonymous peer-review comments may spark legal battle->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The power of anonymous comments—and the liability of those who make them—is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts—provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says."
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+ - Mystery of the Narwhal's tusk solved? It's a status symbol->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Although the narwhal is well-known throughout popular culture, the purpose of its iconic tusk is not. The appendage—which is actually a single tooth that protrudes from the whale’s upper left jaw—can grow up to 2 to 3 meters in length and is found almost exclusively in males. Many explanations have been offered up, including its potential use in defense, foraging, male competition, and breaking of sea ice; however, support for many of the proposed functions has been limited to isolated observations. Now, new findings provide evidence that the tusk may serve as a visible feature that females use to identify the most fertile males when choosing a mate, much like a stag’s antlers or a peacock’s feathers, that are used to attract females. Tusk length was significantly related to the testes mass—an indicator of fertility—suggesting that males with longer tusks are likely also the most fertile and best mates."
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+ - Ancient campfires led to the rise of storytelling->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A study of evening campfire conversations by the Ju/’hoan people of Namibia and Botswana suggests that by extending the day, fire allowed people to unleash their imaginations and tell stories, rather than merely focus on mundane topics. As scientists report, whereas daytime talk was focused almost entirely on economic issues, land rights, and complaints about other people, 81% of the firelight conversation was devoted to telling stories, including tales about people from other Ju/’hoan communities. The team suggests that campfires allowed human ancestors to expand their minds in a similar way and also solidified social networks."
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