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Science | The Guardian



Latest Science news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Fri, 26 May 2017 13:22:43 GMT2017-05-26T13:22:43Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Nasa's Juno probe captures dramatic first close-up images of Jupiter

Thu, 25 May 2017 18:00:36 GMT2017-05-25T18:00:36Z

Excitement greets pictures of giant, chaotic weather systems plus new measurements that will help build unprecedented map of planet’s interior

The first close-up observations from Nasa’s Juno spacecraft have captured towering clouds, swirling cyclones and dramatic flows of ammonia that drive giant weather systems on the largest planet in the solar system.

The $1.1bn probe swung into orbit around Jupiter in July last year on a mission to peer through the thick clouds that shroud the planet and learn how the alien world, and ultimately all of the planets in the solar system, formed around the nascent sun 4.5bn years ago.

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Unhealthy Britain: half of adults walk less than a mile a day – survey

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:48:30 GMT2017-05-26T11:48:30Z

Poll commissioned by Cancer Research UK finds 52% of adults walk only 2,000 steps a day, figures described as ‘worrying’ and likely to increase cancer risk

Britons are being urged to take to their feet after research showed more than half of adults walk less than a mile a day.

A poll of 2,198 adults conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the charity Cancer Research UK found that on average 52% of UK adults walk a mile a day or less during the week – the equivalent of 2,000 steps – and almost a fifth (17%) walk less than a quarter of a mile.

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Fathers pay more attention to toddler daughters than sons, study shows

Thu, 25 May 2017 13:00:29 GMT2017-05-25T13:00:29Z

Striking differences in the way men talk and play with their children depending on whether they are male or female revealed by US researchers

Fathers of toddler daughters are more attentive to their children than those of sons, according to a study that suggests unconscious gender biases can dictate the way parents treat their children.

In the study, which monitored 48 hours of interactions between fathers and toddlers, striking differences emerged between the way fathers spoke to and played with boys compared to girls.

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Statins help improve heart function and structure, study finds

Fri, 26 May 2017 13:00:12 GMT2017-05-26T13:00:12Z

Researchers using MRI scans of participants found those taking the cholesterol medicines were less likely to have a thickened heart muscle (left ventricular hypertrophy)

Statins not only lower cholesterol but can improve the structure and function of the heart, research has shown.

People taking the drugs were less likely to have abnormally enlarged hearts, a sign of stress and weakness, scientists said.

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Digital autopsies should be standard for probable natural deaths, says study

Thu, 25 May 2017 05:30:20 GMT2017-05-25T05:30:20Z

CT scanning techniques should be used instead of invasive autopsies in cases of probable natural death- and should be offered free of charge, say researchers

Digital autopsies should be the first-line approach in postmortem investigations of probable natural death, and should be offered free of charge to families, researchers have said.

About 90,000 autopsies requested by coroners are carried out in England and Wales every year, with the majority of deaths found to be a result of natural causes.

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Drinking coffee may help prevent liver cancer, study suggests

Thu, 25 May 2017 05:01:19 GMT2017-05-25T05:01:19Z

People who drink more coffee – even decaffeinated – are less likely to develop liver cancer, an analysis of data from 26 studies has found

Increasing coffee consumption may help to stave off liver cancer, a new study has suggested.

Researchers have found that people who drink more coffee are less likely to develop hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer – and the effect was even found in decaffeinated coffee.

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Fitness trackers out of step when measuring calories, research shows

Wed, 24 May 2017 15:00:24 GMT2017-05-24T15:00:24Z

Compared with gold-standard laboratory measurements, scientists found devices poor at tracking calories burned, but good at monitoring heart rate

Fitness devices can help monitor heart rate but are unreliable at keeping tabs on calories burned, research has revealed.

Scientists put seven consumer devices through their paces, comparing their data with gold-standard laboratory measurements.

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WHO elects first ever African director-general after tense vote

Tue, 23 May 2017 17:22:54 GMT2017-05-23T17:22:54Z

Former Ethiopian health minister Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to lead World Health Organisation after a long and fraught campaign

Vote for WHO top job held after weeks of mud-slinging

The World Health Organisation has its first ever director-general from Africa, after the election of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the former Ethiopian health minister.

Dr Tedros, as he is known, beat the British candidate, Dr David Nabarro, after three tense rounds of voting on Tuesday. Third was Pakistan’s Dr Sania Nishtar. The decision by member states came at the World Health Assembly in Geneva after a fraught campaign.

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How did whales become so large? Scientists dive into marine mystery

Wed, 24 May 2017 05:30:28 GMT2017-05-24T05:30:28Z

Changes in food distribution, rather than falling ocean temperatures, could hold key to shift towards giant lengths

The blue whale has a body the length of a jet airliner, a heart the size of a car, and a tongue the same weight as an elephant.

Now researchers say they might have solved the mystery of why baleen whales – a group that includes these blue beasts, the largest animals on the planet – became so large.

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Scientists race against time as Yemen's deadly cholera outbreak spirals

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:10:09 GMT2017-05-24T13:10:09Z

Health system in Yemen at breaking point as sharp spike in reported cases prompts urgent work to identify suspected new cholera strain

As Yemen’s cholera outbreak gathers pace, an investigation is under way to determine whether a new and more deadly strain of the disease is responsible for a second wave of cases that hit the country last month.

With more than 2,000 suspected cases reported daily, medical supplies are running low and in some hospitals beds are shared by up to six children. Scientists are urgently trying to identify the suspected new strain at specialist laboratories in France.

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Extra layer of tectonic plates discovered within Earth's mantle, scientists say

Wed, 24 May 2017 06:00:29 GMT2017-05-24T06:00:29Z

Preliminary findings suggest that a mysterious series of earthquakes in the Pacific could be down to previously undetected plates

Scientists say they have found a possible layer of tectonic plates within the Earth’s mantle which could explain a mysterious series of earthquakes in the Pacific.

For more than half a century scientists have known that continents drift over the surface of our planet, and that the ocean floor tears apart in their wake, with magma from the mantle filling the gap. At the other end of the process, where tectonic plates converge, oceanic plates plunge into the deeper mantle in a process called subduction.

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High blood platelet count 'as good a cancer predictor as a lump in the breast'

Tue, 23 May 2017 06:05:45 GMT2017-05-23T06:05:45Z

Common blood tests could help diagnose cancer early even in patients that show no other symptoms, study finds

A common blood test could help diagnose cancer earlier, according to research suggesting a high platelet count is strongly associated with the disease.

Platelets are tiny blood cells that circulate in the body, helping wounds to clot. But in some individuals too many platelets are produced – a condition known as thrombocytosis, thought to affect about half a million people in the UK over the age of 40.

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Space sperm produces healthy mice, raising prospect of future human settlement

Mon, 22 May 2017 19:00:31 GMT2017-05-22T19:00:31Z

Scientists say success of freeze-dried mouse sperm stored on international station could be significant for human reproduction when ‘space age’ arrives

Reproduction may be possible in space, Japanese researchers have said, after freeze-dried sperm stored on the International Space Station for nine months produced healthy offspring.

The scientists said their findings could have significant ramifications for human settlements in space, which they consider “likely”.

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Scientists identify 40 genes that shed new light on biology of intelligence

Mon, 22 May 2017 15:27:57 GMT2017-05-22T15:27:57Z

Study significantly adds to the tally of genes connected to intellect – but researchers caution genius isn’t all down to genetics

A major study into the genetics of human intelligence has given scientists their richest insight yet into the biology that underpins our cognitive skills.

The research on 60,000 adults and 20,000 children uncovered 40 new genes that play a role in intelligence, a haul that brings the number of genes known to have a bearing on IQ to 52.

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The Faraday cage: from Victorian experiment to Snowden-era paranoia

Mon, 22 May 2017 05:00:14 GMT2017-05-22T05:00:14Z

Michael Faraday’s pioneering work on electricity made him a 19th-century superstar. Now his signature invention is being repurposed for surveillance–proof bags, wallpaper and underpants – not to mention plot points in TV shows such as Better Call Saul

There is not much room to build a box the size of a garage in the Royal Institution’s lecture theatre. Tiered seating surrounds the large central table and leaves little room for much else. It was the same in January 1836, but Michael Faraday had no choice. He left his cramped lab in the basement of the building in London’s Mayfair and set to work. He put a wooden frame, 12ft square, on four glass supports and added paper walls and wire mesh. He then stepped inside and electrified it.

Faraday all but lived in the box for two full days. In that time, with electrometers, candles, and a large brass ball on a white silk thread, he explored the nature of charge. What he discovered transformed how scientists viewed electricity. But the cage itself was simply a means to an end, a way to insulate experiments from the outside world. It hardly screamed applications. Standing on the spot where the box was built, Frank James, the RI’s historian, gives the simple reason: “What was there to protect against electrical charge in 1836?”

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‘I knew they were sugar pills but I felt fantastic’ – the rise of open-label placebos

Mon, 22 May 2017 05:00:14 GMT2017-05-22T05:00:14Z

IBS patient Linda Buonanno knew the pills she was given contained no active drugs, yet they had an immediate effect on her condition. So can placebos play a useful medical role?

Linda Buonanno had suffered 15 years of intense cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and pain she describes as “worse than labour”. She was willing to try anything to get relief from her irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and leapt at the chance to take part in a trial of an experimental new therapy. Her hope turned to disappointment, however, when the researcher handed her a bottle of capsules he described as placebos containing no active ingredients.

Nonetheless, she took the pills twice daily. Four days later, her symptoms all but vanished. “I know it sounds crazy,” says Buonanno, of Methuen, Massachusetts. “I felt fantastic. I knew they were just sugar pills, but I was able to go out dancing and see my friends again.”

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Air pollution linked to poor sleep, study finds

Sun, 21 May 2017 20:45:04 GMT2017-05-21T20:45:04Z

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide and airborne particles affects sleep efficiency, says medical professor

Air pollution might be linked to poor sleep, say researchers looking into the impact of toxic air on our slumbers.

Related: Looking tired can harm your social life, say researchers

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Is graphene really worth the hype – science weekly

Sun, 21 May 2017 06:00:47 GMT2017-05-21T06:00:47Z

Nicola Davis investigates what makes graphene the ‘wonder material’ and whether it can bring commercial success to the UK

Subscribe & Review on iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud & Acast, and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast why not recommend it, or any other podcasts you’ve loved to podcasts@theguardian.com to be in with a chance of featuring in our Hear Here column.

In this week’s show we look at the the wonder material graphene – what is it good for and is it all it is cracked up to be? We also explore the challenges and pitfalls of getting it out of the laboratory and into products and ask whether graphene, first isolated by researchers in Manchester, is likely to be a commercial success for the UK.

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The new rulebook for real-life star wars

Sat, 20 May 2017 23:05:38 GMT2017-05-20T23:05:38Z

An international group including scientists and lawyers aims to lay down the law for the military in space

Space, as Star Trek fans are reminded at the start of each episode, is the final frontier. But while it is a place that few will ever visit, that does not mean it should be allowed to become a wild west.

An international coalition of lawyers, scientists, government representatives and academics has recently started to draft the first legal manual of space warfare. Establishing the legal parameters for the military uses of outer space, the manual will provide guidance on issues such as the legality of attacking satellites and firing lasers from space during war, and the future rules of engagement.

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Did Dutch hordes kill off the early Britons who started Stonehenge?

Sat, 20 May 2017 23:05:38 GMT2017-05-20T23:05:38Z

A gene study has shown that incomers could have ousted Stone Age Britons

The men and women who built Stonehenge left an indelible mark on the British landscape. However, researchers have discovered that their impact on other aspects of the nation may have been less impressive. In particular, their input into Britain’s gene pool appears to have fizzled out, having been terminated by light-skinned Bronze Age invaders who arrived just as Ancient Britons were midway through their great Stone Age project. In the end, these newcomers may have completely replaced the people who were building Stonehenge.

This startling conclusion is the result of a huge gene study of humans in prehistoric Europe. It shows that around 2500BC – when the main sections of Stonehenge were under construction – a race of people known to archaeologists as the Beaker folk arrived in Britain. Their genetic profiles were similar to individuals who were living in the Netherlands at the time. In just a short period, all genetic traces of early Stone Age Britons were replaced by those from these continental newcomers, although work on Stonehenge continued.

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Negativity bias: why conservatives are more swayed by threats than liberals

Fri, 26 May 2017 11:15:10 GMT2017-05-26T11:15:10Z

We all tend to give more weight to negative messages than positive. Recent research reveals that this psychological bias is much stronger in conservatives than liberals

(Preface: all of the research reported in this post has been done with American voters and not those in the UK, where equivalent research is lagging. While there may be some interesting correlates, conservatives in the UK differ in important ways from conservatives in the US.)

Believing what we are told is critical to our development as a species. It allows us to accumulate knowledge and build on it rather than having to learn slowly through trial-and-error or evolutionary selection.

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The polls could be right about Labour's gains - but also misleading

Fri, 26 May 2017 09:12:23 GMT2017-05-26T09:12:23Z

Don’t be fooled by apparently good numbers. Despite Labour’s recent gains, regional trends in polling suggest big names like Tom Watson and Clive Lewis, along with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, could be under threat

You might think that Tom Watson has a pretty safe seat. Labour’s Deputy Leader and MP for West Bromwich East enjoys a majority over 9,400, which he increased from 6,700 at the 2015 election, only two years ago. In fact, Labour have won every single election in the seat since it was created in 1974. They’ve had a recent boost in the polls, and could even beat their share of the vote in 2015. What could possibly go wrong?

Tom Watson is in big trouble. The sky is falling. Blue meteors are hurtling toward his head, spewing smoke and fire across the skies of West Bromwich. Swarms of purple locusts muttering about foreigners have turned the sky black and plunged the town into darkness. A town full of people who could barely even tell you what a Tory looked like ten years ago could be on the verge of electing one next week.

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What do the Tour de France and fossils have in common? | Susannah Lydon

Wed, 24 May 2017 12:59:33 GMT2017-05-24T12:59:33Z

Sport and palaeontology rarely overlap, but a new study shows ancient arthropods may have used the same slipstreaming techniques as elite cyclists

Trilobites are common fossils. Resembling nothing so much as a glorified woodlouse, these animals teemed in our oceans for millions of years. The first fossils are around 520 million years old, while the final demise of one last group of survivors took place 250 million years ago, in the Earth’s biggest known mass extinction event. In size, they varied from tiny planktonic forms a millimetre long to the mighty Isotelus rex, more than 70 cm long. Some swam and ate plankton, others were scavengers or predators which roamed the sea-floor.

There are thousands of species of this group of extinct arthropods (invertebrates with an exoskeleton and jointed limbs), but they all conform to a strict body plan. From front to back, they have a head (cephalon), a body (thorax) made up of segments, and a tail (pygidium). The three longitudinal lobes along their body, one down the middle and one on each side, are what give them their name. When exceptionally-preserved specimens are found, the details of their limbs, underneath their body, are revealed: they have a pair of antennae, followed by many two-branched limbs down the rest of their body. If your love of palaeontology stems, in part, from the alien aesthetic qualities of life from the deep past, then trilobites have all the wonderfully Giger-esque features you could hope for. In fact, one of the xenomorphs in Prometheus is known as the Trilobite, despite ending up looking much more like a cephalopod.

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Honey, I love you: our 40,000-year relationship with the humble bee

Wed, 24 May 2017 10:28:13 GMT2017-05-24T10:28:13Z

Humans have always had a special relationship with bees. And while the archaeological evidence is sparse, what does exist shows the richness of ancient human activities

Earlier this month I received my first package of bees. A package refers to a box containing 3 pounds of bees, or roughly 12 thousand Apis Mellifera. And while introducing a new species of animal to your home seems like a hugely cathartic event, there was no ceremonious exchange of insect between myself and the store from which I ordered them, which was a bit of a let down. I accepted the humming box, placed it in the hatchback of the family car, and drove home. After donning my bee suit and gathering all my tools, it took me about 12 minutes to physically place the bees into the brood box, the part of the hive where the queen will lay her eggs and rear new drones and workers. And with that our family joined an ancient fraternity of bee keepers.

Humans have intricately intertwined their existence with bees for millennia. Interestingly, bee keeping and honey hunting have been largely ignored in the archaeological or ethnographic records, and we have to be satisfied with minor glimpses into such activities. One of the earliest recorded instances of humans interacting with bee products comes from a modest spear point found in a Spanish cave, which was attached to its shaft with the aid of bee’s wax 40,000 years ago. Ancient rock art from such diverse places as southern Africa, Turkey, Bhutan, and Australia depict various aspects of bee hive life cycles, often with human figures attempting to access the hives. Most of this was created by nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples who hunted wild honey sources. Some of these depictions, such as red and white paintings from Zimbabwe, depict not only honey and comb, but also depict brood, the reproductive portions of the hive where the queen lays the eggs and the larval bees grow to maturity each in their own cells. Understanding brood and when hives are the most (re)productive would have aided hunter-gatherers in collecting wild honey. Such cultures also ate the brood, which is rich in fat and protein.

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Homo naledi genome: Will we ever find this elusive key to human evolution? | Jennifer Raff

Tue, 23 May 2017 11:10:34 GMT2017-05-23T11:10:34Z

Despite the recent announcement of a new haul of Homo naledi fossils, recovering ancient DNA is still proving as difficult as ever

Despite what many people believe, paradigm-shifting moments in science - where our understanding of a particular explanation is challenged by a single finding - are actually quite rare. But one happened in paleoanthropology on 9 May with the publication of three linked papers describing new fossils belonging to the enigmatic hominin Homo naledi.

Many people tend to think of human evolution as a very linear path: from primitive creatures more or less directly to ourselves. But for most of the history of evolution, there were multiple species of hominins running (or climbing) around the African landscape, each with their own unique physical adaptations to the challenges of survival. As with all evolutionary experiments, some of these adaptations proved more successful than others. Based on careful study of fossils spanning millions of years in Africa, paleoanthropologists thought they had a good understanding of how the experiment’s results unfolded. Human evolution wasn’t a straight progression by any means, but more like a complicated bush, with branches leading off in many directions. Still, there were definite trends that made their way into our textbooks. Hominin lineages with some trait combinations died off without leaving any descendants. In the lineages that persisted, brains got bigger, legs longer, arms shorter, fingers less curved, teeth smaller.

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Did you solve it? The maths problem for five-year-olds 'stumping' the web

Mon, 22 May 2017 16:02:50 GMT2017-05-22T16:02:50Z

The answers to today’s three puzzles

Earlier today I set you the following three puzzles.

1. In each of the four sectors of the outer circle, there is a two-digit number which is equal to the sum of the three numbers at the corners of its sector. The numbers in the individual circles can only be 1 to 9 and each number can be used only once. One number has been provided to get you started. Find the remaining four numbers

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Can you solve it? The maths problem for 5-year-olds 'stumping' the web

Mon, 22 May 2017 06:17:16 GMT2017-05-22T06:17:16Z

The truth about the latest viral maths problem from Singapore - and another historic Oriental numbers puzzle

UPDATE: To read the solutions click here.

Happy birthday Monday Puzzle!

It is now exactly two years since the birth of this column, which I started as a consequence of a Singapore maths problem that went viral. To celebrate this anniversary the internet has kindly provided me with a new Singapore maths problem. The web has been aflutter this past week about the following teaser reportedly given to Singaporean first year pupils, that’s five to seven-year-olds, that is so difficult no one can solve.

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The real importance of a silly-sounding GCSE question on Darwin | Jenny Rohn

Thu, 18 May 2017 11:00:50 GMT2017-05-18T11:00:50Z

Students have expressed scorn over a biology exam question on ‘Victorian monkey memes’. So how much does teaching the history of science matter?

According to BuzzFeed, British year 11 students encountered a Biology exam question this week about science history and were “confused”, using Twitter to vent their frustration.

Students taking the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) version of the GCSE exam were reportedly asked to explain why Victorian journalists lampooned Charles Darwin as a monkey in cartoons – thereby scuppering their chance to shine on topics they’d studied hard for, such as photosynthesis and the menstrual cycle.

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Here be dragons: the million-year journey of the Komodo dragon | Hanneke Meijer

Wed, 17 May 2017 11:09:54 GMT2017-05-17T11:09:54Z

Far from being the special result of insular evolution, Komodo dragons are the last survivors of a group of huge lizards that ranged over much of Australasia

In 1910, Lieutenant Jacques Karel Henri van Steyn van Hensbroek was stationed on Flores Island in eastern Indonesia within the Dutch colonial administration, when he received word of a “land crocodile” of unusually large size living on the nearby island of Komodo. Intrigued, he set out to Komodo to investigate for himself. He returned with a photo and the skin of the animal, which he sent to Pieter Ouwens, then director of the Java Zoological Museum and Botanical Gardens in Buitenzorg (now Bogor). The animal was not a crocodile of any sort, but a large monitor lizard. Ouwens realised that this animal was new to science and published the first formal description of the animal, which we know now as Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis (Ouwens, 1912).

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Multiverse: have astronomers found evidence of parallel universes?

Wed, 17 May 2017 05:30:00 GMT2017-05-17T05:30:00Z

To many these past 12 months seem as if we have already slipped into a parallel universe but Brexit and Trump are nothing compared to the alternate universes some astronomers are contemplating

They call it the multiverse. It’s a cosmos in which there are multiple universes. And by multiple, I mean an infinite number. These uncountable realms sit side by side in higher dimensions that our senses are incapable of perceiving directly.

Yet increasingly astronomers and cosmologists seem to be invoking the multiverse to explain puzzling observations.

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New Zealand launches 3D-printed rocket into space – video

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:41:27 GMT2017-05-25T09:41:27Z

Stunning images from New Zealand’s North Island as Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded company, launches the maiden space flight of its battery-powered, 3D-printed rocket from the Mahia peninsula

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New Zealand launches into space race with 3D-printed rocket

Thu, 25 May 2017 06:43:51 GMT2017-05-25T06:43:51Z

Successful launch of low cost rocket seen as bringing down barriers to space while also making New Zealand a hub

Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded space launch company, on Thursday launched the maiden flight of its battery-powered, 3-D printed rocket from New Zealand’s remote Mahia Peninsula.

“Made it to space. Team delighted,” Rocket Lab said on its official Twitter account.

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New endometriosis research reveals wider array of genetic links to disease

Thu, 25 May 2017 00:14:36 GMT2017-05-25T00:14:36Z

Researchers, co-led by University of Queensland academics, discover five additional DNA sections for disease affecting one in 10 Australian women

Researchers are one step closer to identifying genes linked to a gynaecological disease affecting one in 10 Australian women.

A global study into the genetic causes of endometriosis has identified a wider array of genetic links to the disease than what was previously known.

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Cannabis drug cuts seizures in children with severe epilepsy in trial

Wed, 24 May 2017 21:00:10 GMT2017-05-24T21:00:10Z

Doctors say cannabidiol offers hope for thousands with rare condition who have several life-threatening convulsions a day

A new drug derived from cannabis has been shown to reduce the convulsive seizures experienced by children with a severe form of epilepsy by nearly a half – and in a small number, stop them altogether.

Doctors involved in the trials say the drug could change the lives of thousands of children for whom there is little treatment, and might also help children and adults with more common forms of epilepsy.

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Too much spin caused Mars probe Schiaparelli crash, experts say

Wed, 24 May 2017 17:37:54 GMT2017-05-24T17:37:54Z

Investigation concludes ‘unexpected high rotation’ caused probe to plunge to its destruction, hitting Mars surface at estimated 335mph

An electronic dizzy spell caused by spinning too fast led the European Space Agency (Esa) probe Schiaparelli to crash land on Mars, an investigation has concluded.

Scientists said three minutes after entering the Martian atmosphere, “unexpected high rotation” resulted in “saturation” of an instrument in the craft tracking spin rate.

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Study finds mushrooms are the safest recreational drug

Wed, 24 May 2017 10:18:26 GMT2017-05-24T10:18:26Z

People taking mushrooms in 2016 needed medical treatment less than for MDMA, LSD and cocaine, while one of the riskiest drugs was synthetic cannabis

Mushrooms are the safest of all the drugs people take recreationally, according to this year’s Global Drug Survey.

Of the more than 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, just 0.2% of them said they needed emergency medical treatment – a rate at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD and cocaine.

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Why your waist measurement can predict cancer risk

Wed, 24 May 2017 05:01:28 GMT2017-05-24T05:01:28Z

Study finds men with over 40in waist and women with over 35in waist are more at risk of cancer as waist size is as good at predicting cancer risk as BMI

An expanding waistline could be a warning sign that a man or woman is running an increased risk of certain cancers, according to international experts.

Scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is an arm of the World Health Organisation, have shown that waist measurement is as good at predicting cancer risk as body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight to height.

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Parents of sick baby say therapy in US is son's 'last hope' of survival

Tue, 23 May 2017 11:27:47 GMT2017-05-23T11:27:47Z

Chris Gard and Connie Yates want appeal court judges to overrule earlier decision for hospital to withdraw Charlie’s life support

A couple who want to take their sick baby son abroad for treatment have asked three court of appeal judges not to take away their “only remaining hope” for his survival.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates want permission to take nine-month-old Charlie, who has a form of mitochondrial disease that causes brain damage and muscle problems, to the US for a therapy trial.

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World's best Go player flummoxed by Google’s ‘godlike’ AlphaGo AI

Tue, 23 May 2017 10:29:26 GMT2017-05-23T10:29:26Z

Ke Jie, who once boasted he would never be beaten by a computer at the ancient Chinese game, said he had ‘horrible experience’

A Google algorithm has narrowly beaten the world’s best player in the ancient Chinese board game of Go, reaffirming the arrival of what its developers say is a groundbreaking new form of artificial intelligence.

Related: AlphaGo: beating humans is one thing but to really succeed AI must work with them

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The week in wildlife – in pictures

Fri, 26 May 2017 13:00:12 GMT2017-05-26T13:00:12Z

Herons in flight, an inquisitive marmot and a blue whale are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Are we about to witness the most unequal societies in history?

Wed, 24 May 2017 08:15:10 GMT2017-05-24T08:15:10Z

Biotechnology and the rise of AI may split humankind into a small class of ‘superhumans’ and a huge underclass of ‘useless’ people. Once the masses lose their economic and political power, inequality levels could spiral alarmingly

Inequality goes back to the Stone Age. Thirty thousand years ago, bands of hunter-gatherers in Russia buried some members in sumptuous graves replete with thousands of ivory beads, bracelets, jewels and art objects, while other members had to settle for a bare hole in the ground.

Nevertheless, ancient hunter-gatherer groups were still more egalitarian than any subsequent human society, because they had very little property. Property is a pre-requisite for long-term inequality.

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Jim Brooks obituary

Wed, 24 May 2017 16:31:40 GMT2017-05-24T16:31:40Z

My friend Jim Brooks, who has died aged 78, was a distinguished scientist whose life was full of surprises. Branching out from initial studies in industrial chemistry at Bradford Institute of Technology (later Bradford University), he elucidated the properties of sporopollenin, a virtually indestructible component of plant spores found in ancient rocks, which provided evidence of life on Earth at least 3,500m years ago. Jim’s work in this area culminated in the publication of a beautifully illustrated book, Origins of Life (1985).

He was born in West Cornforth, Co Durham, but grew up in the textile village of Saltaire, West Yorkshire, where his father, Ernest, was a dyer. His mother, Beatrice (nee Hunter), had been in service. After his first degree at Bradford, Jim gained a master’s and a PhD. He joined BP as a research geoscientist in 1969, and his research career continued while he held various positions in the oil industry.

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Robot hearts: medicine’s new frontier

Tue, 23 May 2017 04:30:43 GMT2017-05-23T04:30:43Z

From bovine valves to electrical motors and 3-D printed hearts, cardiologists are forging ahead with technologies once dismissed as “crazy ideas”

On a cold, bright January morning I walked south across Westminster Bridge to St Thomas’ Hospital, an institution with a proud tradition of innovation: I was there to observe a procedure generally regarded as the greatest advance in cardiac surgery since the turn of the millennium – and one that can be performed without a surgeon.

The patient was a man in his 80s with aortic stenosis, a narrowed valve which was restricting outflow from the left ventricle into the aorta. His heart struggled to pump sufficient blood through the reduced aperture, and the muscle of the affected ventricle had thickened as the organ tried to compensate. If left unchecked, this would eventually lead to heart failure. For a healthier patient the solution would be simple: an operation to remove the diseased valve and replace it with a prosthesis. But the man’s age and a long list of other medical conditions made open-heart surgery out of the question. Happily, for the last few years, another option has been available for such high-risk patients: transcatheter aortic valve implantation, known as TAVI for short.

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Can you manufacture blood cells?

Sat, 20 May 2017 07:30:19 GMT2017-05-20T07:30:19Z

Researchers may have found a way of making blood from human or mouse stem cells

How might blood cells be made?

Different groups of researchers say they have developed a way of producing blood cells from human or mouse cells that have been reprogrammed in the lab – an advance that has been touted as offering a solution to the need for blood donation. The latest studies are the result of 20 years’ work in the field.

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A peacock's tail: how Darwin arrived at his theory of sexual selection

Fri, 19 May 2017 19:00:04 GMT2017-05-19T19:00:04Z

How Darwin developed the radical idea of females’ power to choose their mates despite it being at odds with his own notions of women as inferior

About 150 years ago, and “almost a lifetime” either side, Charles Darwin was beleaguered by the problem of the peacock’s tail. Just the sight of a feather, he wrote in April 1860, “makes me sick!”

The plumage of the male bird represented a hole in his theory of evolution. According to Victorian thinking, beauty was divine creation: God had designed the peacock for his own and humankind’s delight.

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Balasubramaniam Kathirgamathamby obituary

Wed, 17 May 2017 14:43:11 GMT2017-05-17T14:43:11Z

My father, Balasubramaniam Kathirgamathamby, who has died of cancer aged 69, was a senior research chemist who specialised in coatings and formulation chemistry, developing fireproof architectural coatings, barnacle-resistant marine paints and drug excipients. He also invented a variant of the pigment ultramarine.

His interest in ultramarine began while learning of its use in the Taj Mahal during part-time study for an archaeology degree at the North East London Polytechnic (now University of East London) in the late 1970s. This interest stayed with him and, many years later, while working for Holliday Pigments as a research chemist, he invented a method of making a pigment composition that did not possess the limitations (instability and decomposition) associated with ultramarine in acidic conditions. Removing these limitations enabled ultramarine to be used in applications such as plastics, inks and paints.

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Ill-gotten gains – why Americanisms are a boon for the British

Tue, 16 May 2017 11:27:51 GMT2017-05-16T11:27:51Z

Many phrases the British love to hate are actually old English expressions – while many genuine Americanisms are accepted without a fuss. Are they a bad thing? You do the math

Do you hate Americanisms? Lots of people wince and reach for the green ink if they hear a British person speak of death as “passing”. Yet that euphemism is present in Chaucer and Shakespeare. What about “oftentimes”? It’s in the King James Bible. And even “the fall” for autumn is good old 17th-century English, a shortening of the traditional term “fall of the leaf”.

By contrast, some phrases that appear echt-British are, in fact, American. A “stiff upper lip” first appeared in a Massachusetts newspaper in 1815. Americans also coined the terms “commuter” and “teenager”, which don’t seem to prompt so much of a post-imperial cringe from those who want to take back control of our linguistic borders.

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'Those are our Eiffel Towers, our pyramids': Why Standing Rock is about much more than oil

Mon, 15 May 2017 13:16:11 GMT2017-05-15T13:16:11Z

Standing Rock is cast as an environmental protest, but the Native American Water Protectors are part of a religious tradition that predates Christianity

On May 15, the Dakota Access Pipeline is scheduled to start delivering oil. The indigenous community of Standing Rock, North Dakota, has protested the pipeline for two years since its re-routing. Media coverage has largely portrayed the protest as an environmental movement and discussion of indigenous religion is rare. However, while environmental protection is a central and connected issue, discussions of Standing Rock that do not include an understanding of Native American religious traditions are missing important context.

Over 5,000 years ago, the inhabitants of a village along the Green River, Kentucky, practiced the Cult of the River Keepers. Skeletons show evidence of auditory exostoses, a growth of cartilaginous tissue on ear bones that is found in humans who are repeatedly exposed to cold water – suggesting they frequently performed religious ceremonies in the river. Today, Native American cultures in the midwest and south regard rivers are sacred entities, known as the Long Man or Long Snake, and continue to perform religious ceremonies in them. In the Missouri River, indigenous Water Protectors have tried to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from passing through a sacred landscape. Understood in its religious context, the Standing Rock Sioux are not anti-industry protestors, but practitioners of religious elements that may predate Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by centuries.

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Arc to Arcturus, jump to Jupiter

Sun, 14 May 2017 20:30:25 GMT2017-05-14T20:30:25Z

Jupiter the giant planet currently dominates Britain’s twilit skies, and even binoculars will reveal its four main moons

The giant planet Jupiter, brighter than any star, stands 30° to 35° high in the S during Britain’s evening twilight at present and tracks westwards to dip beneath our W horizon about one hour before dawn.

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Secrets of the shiny yellow buttercup

Sun, 14 May 2017 20:30:25 GMT2017-05-14T20:30:25Z

When it comes to attracting pollinators, buttercup petals hold all the aces. They even provide their guests with heating

Do you like butter? Hold a buttercup under your chin and folklore says if there is a yellow reflection on your skin it means you do. But the real reason the flowers seem to shine with an intense glittering yellow is nothing to do with butter but about advertising the plants to insect pollinators from a great distance.

Buttercups get their bright colour from yellow pigments in the petals’ surface layer, and their shiny gloss is thanks to layers of air just beneath the surface reflecting the light like mirrors. The glowing phenomenon is unique in plants, although something similar happens with some butterfly and bird wings.

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The bombing in Manchester has brought national trauma. We must not lash out | Jonathan Romain

Tue, 23 May 2017 13:54:04 GMT2017-05-23T13:54:04Z

There’s a temptation to react to the Manchester attacks with calls for vengeance. Here are some better alternatives

The Manchester bomber was not just trying to kill those at the pop concert, but he was also targeting you and me. He wanted to make us nervous about going to a shopping centre today or attending events such the FA Cup at Wembley this Saturday. His weapon of choice was the emotional responses that we carry within us and which he was trying to trigger.

Emotions such as horror: at the lives snuffed out, the injuries sustained, the families devastated. Or fear: that on another occasion it might be us who is involved and who is carried away in bodybags. Or anger: that a person could do such a thing and be “inspired” by a political or religious ideology.

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Without action on antibiotics, medicine will return to the dark ages | Ed Whiting

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:24:17 GMT2017-05-19T10:24:17Z

Continued overprescribing and abuse could lead to more people dying of resistant infections than cancer. Only global cooperation can solve the problem

When Prof Sally Davies published The Drugs Don’t Work in 2013, it wasn’t some allusion to a Verve number from the 1990s, but a sombre warning of the growing threat posed by bacteria evolving resistance to life-saving antibiotics. If this were left unaddressed, she argued, it would lead to the erosion of modern medicine as we know it.

Related: Antimicrobial resistance: what you need to know

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Fidget spinners are not just a fad – ask any ballpoint-pen clicker | Katherine Isbister

Fri, 19 May 2017 04:06:31 GMT2017-05-19T04:06:31Z

Despite sometimes being an annoying distraction for others, such items can have practical uses for adults, and perhaps even children

The fidget spinner craze has been sweeping elementary and middle schools. As of May 17 every one of the top 10 best-selling toys on Amazon was a form of the hand-held toy people can spin and do tricks with. Kids and parents are even making them for themselves using 3D printers and other more homespun crafting techniques.

But some teachers are banning them from classrooms. And experts challenge the idea that spinners are good for conditions like ADHD and anxiety. Meanwhile, the Kickstarter online fundraising campaign for the Fidget Cube – another popular fidget toy in 2017 – raised an astounding US$6.4 million, and can be seen on the desks of hipsters and techies across the globe.

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Do sea monsters exist? Yes, but they go by another name … | Jules Howard

Thu, 18 May 2017 07:38:52 GMT2017-05-18T07:38:52Z

Nothing fires up a media storm like a sighting of a dead sea monster no one can identify. However much scientists shout ‘It’s a whale!’

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I guess I’ll have to. It was a whale that washed up on the Indonesian island of Seram late last week. It was never a sea monster, no matter how hard we all tried to believe or hope it might be. Although the species of whale remains unknown (DNA analysis should solve that problem in time), the big giveaways were the presence of whale jaw-bone, the baleen plates, the vertebrae, the fins, the throat pleats, the whale shape and the fact that whales live close by and have skeletons that look exactly the same as this one did. Still, why let a bit of science get in the way of a good monster story, right?

And so, within hours, a familiar narrative was playing out in the world’s media as the whale became a dead sea monster that no one could identify, a Scooby Doo mystery that could be maintained by journalists for days as long as nobody checked Twitter, where 10,000 scientists were screaming “That is clearly a whale” at each other. As such, in the news reports, the whale’s decomposing skin became “fur” and its blood became “mysterious red fluid” floating in the water. Nothing (apart from spiders and wasps) brings out the worst in journalism like a decomposing whale, it seems.

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Why don’t people like me? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Anouchka Grose

Wed, 17 May 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-05-17T07:00:02Z

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

Way before the internet, people put a great deal of effort into getting “likes”. You could even say that one’s ability to generate likes is a primary human concern. Babies are useless, so it’s very important that people like them. If nobody likes them, they may die. Hence they inadvertently do loads of stuff to get on the right side of people. They smile, cling to fingers, copy sounds and gestures, and gaze endearingly into people’s eyes. At first they don’t “know” what they’re doing, but they pretty soon get the hang of doing it all on purpose, and in relation to other people who, one hopes, like them all the more for it. Gradually they learn to speak, and finally to write thank you letters.

Related: Do women have a G-spot? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Nichi Hodgson

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The nose has it: it’s no surprise humans’ sense of smell can be as good as dogs’ | Sarah McCartney

Mon, 15 May 2017 10:03:21 GMT2017-05-15T10:03:21Z

Being a professional perfumer I understand the potential of our olfactory skills. And it’s amazing what you can achieve with practice

I’ve spent 20 years learning to recognise different aromas; I make perfume for a living, and I run workshops to guide people around the world of fragrance. Apart from those whose sense of smell is irreparably damaged, we humans get better with practice pretty quickly. Even people who believe they have a terrible sense of smell are often good at it. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to read that, despite what many believe, human noses rival those of dogs and rodents.

Developing our sense of smell is similar to the way we get better at identifying sounds. If you haven’t listened to a lot of music, you’ll have a hard time spotting the difference between a clarinet and an oboe, mandolin or guitar, tabla or congas. As soon as you practise listening and see the instruments being played, you improve.

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Should complementary and alternative medicine charities lose their charitable status? | Michael Marshall

Fri, 12 May 2017 12:11:07 GMT2017-05-12T12:11:07Z

Reliable evidence matters - and the Charity Commission’s consultation is a chance to make that clear to complementary and alternative therapy charities

Right now, the Charity Commission is in the middle of a public consultation, asking whether or not organisations that offer complementary and alternative therapies should continue to have charitable status. This review presents an unprecedented opportunity for the public to turn the tide, and to make it clear to the Charity Commission that it is not enough to make a medical claim, but that such claims have to be backed up by reliable evidence.

There are currently more than 167,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission, each of which must meet one of 13 pre-defined charitable purposes, as well as operating for the public benefit. One such purpose is “the advancement of health or the saving of lives”. It is this purpose that most complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) charities currently registered with the Charity Commission claim to have as an objective, arguing that the promotion of CAM treatments is a benefit to the public.

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If you have no children, who will care for you when you’re old? | Sonia Sodha

Fri, 12 May 2017 06:00:11 GMT2017-05-12T06:00:11Z

We had to fight to get my grandfather good care. Those of us who don’t have children need a new approach

Few of us are immune from the anxiety that can quickly set in when we contemplate our own ageing. Who will be there for us when us can no longer physically take care of ourselves? Who will be around to remind us of who we were in our moments of lucidity when our minds have started slipping away?

For those of us who don’t have children, these questions take on a particular significance. I had mixed feelings after watching Still Alice, an Oscar-winning depiction of early-onset dementia. It made for grim viewing. But it was easy to imagine the ways it could have been even grimmer: what if the protagonist, Alice, had no children, a partner long departed or divorced, or friends who had drifted away?

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The Antikythera mechanism: the world's first computer? – video

Wed, 17 May 2017 14:22:54 GMT2017-05-17T14:22:54Z

The 2,000-year-old Antikythera shipwreck is considered the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. It included ancient, ornate pottery, weapons, a skeleton that provides scientists with their first real hope of sequencing DNA from a shipwreck victim, and the famous Antikythera mechanism - thought to be the world’s first computer

Images and footage courtesy of Michael Tsimperopoulos and Brett Seymour/EUA/WHOI/Argo.

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Riders on the storm: the scientists who chase tornadoes - in pictures

Wed, 17 May 2017 12:26:50 GMT2017-05-17T12:26:50Z

With funding from the US National Science Foundation and other government grants, scientists and meteorologists from the Center for Severe Weather Research try to get close to supercell storms and tornadoes. They’re trying to better understand tornado structure and strength, how low-level winds affect and damage buildings, and to learn more about tornado formation and prediction.

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Eighteen-foot nodosaur unveiled at Alberta museum – video

Mon, 15 May 2017 20:54:36 GMT2017-05-15T20:54:36Z

An 18ft nodosaur, one of the world’s best preserved armoured dinosaurs, has been unveiled at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada. The fossil was found in 2011 in Alberta’s oilsands, and was subject to 7,000 hours of reconstruction work before being put on display

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Narwhals: new footage reveals possible purpose for mysterious tusk – video

Fri, 12 May 2017 11:55:20 GMT2017-05-12T11:55:20Z

Drone footage in Canada captures the behaviour of rarely-seen narwhals which appear to use their long tusks to tap and stun fish, making them easier to catch. Narwhals, a type of whale, live in remote locations, meaning very little is known about them. WWF and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been working together to monitor the creature to better protect it from industrial development

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75m-year-old 'Ghostbuster' dinosaur discovered – in pictures

Tue, 09 May 2017 23:01:04 GMT2017-05-09T23:01:04Z

Scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum have identified a new species of anklylosaurid. Named Zuul crurivastator in a nod to a demon dog-like creature from the film Ghostbusters and its potentially shin-bruising armoured anatomy, the skeleton is one of the most complete and best preserved of this group of dinosaurs ever found.

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US should get to Mars during my presidency, Trump tells astronaut – video

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:49:59 GMT2017-04-25T08:49:59Z

Astronaut Peggy Whitson, who broke the US record for the most time in space, has received a congratulatory call from Donald Trump. The US president has urged Nasa to ‘speed up’ its Mars mission despite announcing plans to cut the space agency’s spending by about $200m

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Lyrid meteor shower illuminates sky over China – timelapse video

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:34:18 GMT2017-04-24T08:34:18Z

Stargazers were treated to a spectacle when the Lyrid meteor shower lit up the night sky over the north-eastern province of Jilin at the weekend. The annual event usually occurs between 19 and 23 April when the Earth passes through the dusty tail of comet Thatcher

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Thousands rally around the world for ‘March for Science’ – video

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 16:05:35 GMT2017-04-22T16:05:35Z

Thousands of people gathered in demonstrations across the globe for the ‘March for Science’ on Saturday, in a rebuke of Donald Trump’s dismissal of climate science and his attempts to cut large areas of scientific research. People congregated in cities such as London, Sydney and Berlin, with more than 600 marches planned across the US, Europe, South America and Australia

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People march for science around the UK - in pictures

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 10:29:41 GMT2017-04-22T10:29:41Z

People around the world are taking to the streets to stand up for science on Earth Day. We’ll be updating this gallery with photos from the UK marches throughout the day

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The moon landings were faked (and other science confessions)

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 12:45:00 GMT2012-12-13T12:45:00Z

A recent Channel 5 programme about moon landing conspiracies caused much anger for portraying ludicrous anti-scientific claims as credible without any hint of critical analysis. However, it's time we admitted that the moon landings were indeed faked. And that's not the only confession we scientists need to makeYesterday, Channel 5 screened a documentary (and I use that term so loosely it essentially qualifies as a liquid) called "Did we land on the moon?", which looked at the arguments for the well-established conspiracy theory that the moon landings, that defining achievement that inspired generations and showed the true potential of humanity, was an elaborate sham. The programme caused a lot of anger among the science community on the social networks, and arguably rightly so. The programme portrayed the conspiracy theorists as having legitimate arguments and unanswered questions that support their claims, making scant effort to show dissenting views or counterarguments from people who have the audacity to be qualified to discuss the matter. In a way, this is actually the fault of the science community. We've been complaining about the media distorting science via their obsession with presenting a balanced argument for some time now. We should probably have specified that when we argued that balance is unnecessary, we didn't mean "drop the actual science". Whatever you say about programmes like this, they're not balanced, so we can't complain on that front. Continue reading...The moon (if it exists) isn't somewhere where humans (if they exist) have ever walked (if walking is possible). Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA[...]The moon (if it exists) isn't somewhere where humans (if they exist) have ever walked (if walking is possible). Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA


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Nasa releases first close-up images of Jupiter taken by Juno spacecraft – video

Sat, 03 Sep 2016 11:05:49 GMT2016-09-03T11:05:49Z

NASA released the first images of Jupiter taken by its Juno spacecraft on Friday almost two months after it arrived in an orbit around the biggest planet in the solar system. The images were taken on 27 August when the mission had completed its first of 36 orbital flybys of the massive planet. The images reveal Jupiter’s north pole, as well as its bands of clouds and sound recording of its auroras

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Tactical voting to beat the Tories: does the maths equal a coalition?

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:38:51 GMT2017-04-20T10:38:51Z

Every few years, someone suggests forming a progressive coalition to beat the Conservatives. Could a Lib/Lab/Green alliance really beat Theresa May?

Every time there’s an election, which is often, some bright spark on the left comes up with an amazing idea. “There are the Tories, right, and Labour, who are trying to stop them, and then there are all these other parties like the SNP and the Lib Dems and Caroline Lucas and the Welsh one. So here’s a thought: what if they all clubbed together and just decided to beat the Tories?”

It’s a compelling thought, if you ignore political reality and you can genuinely imagine Nicola Sturgeon playing Nick Clegg to a Prime Minister Corbyn. If you could get the so-called ‘progressive coalition’ of Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP and the Greens to vote in perfect harmony, with all their existing supporters voting tactically in perfect harmony to keep the Tories out in each seat, what would actually happen?

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Luminous beauty of Jupiter's auroras revealed by Hubble telescope

Sat, 02 Jul 2016 04:29:53 GMT2016-07-02T04:29:53Z

Huge non-stop lightshow dwarfs the Earth’s transient polar displays, say Nasa scientists, as they carry out project to observe effects of solars winds

Astronomers have used the powerful Hubble space telescope to capture images of the luminous auroras that light up the poles of Jupiter.

Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is best known for its colourful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot.

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Google's Sergey Brin bankrolled world's first synthetic beef hamburger

Mon, 05 Aug 2013 11:29:00 GMT2013-08-05T11:29:00Z

The billionaire co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, said he invested €250,000 in the technology for animal welfare reasons

The man who has bankrolled the production of the world's first lab-grown hamburger has been revealed as Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The internet entrepreneur has backed the project to the tune of €250,000 (£215,000), allowing scientists to grow enough meat in the lab to create a burger – as a proof of concept – that will be cooked and eaten in London on Monday.

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Nasa's Jupiter flyby is a confidence booster

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 21:30:33 GMT2017-02-09T21:30:33Z

Following last year’s computer glitch, Juno has successfully gathered data on the composition of the planet’s atmosphere

Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has skimmed past Jupiter’s north and south pole, returning data on the giant planet and its atmosphere.

The flyby took place on 2 February at 12:57 GMT. Travelling at 129,000mph relative to the planet, the solar powered spacecraft made its close approach over Jupiter’s north pole before skirting the planet and exiting over the south pole. At closest approach, Juno was 2,670 miles above the cloud tops.

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Irish DNA originated in Middle East and eastern Europe

Mon, 28 Dec 2015 20:00:04 GMT2015-12-28T20:00:04Z

Genome analysis shows mass migration of Stone Age farmers from Fertile Crescent and Bronze Age settlers from eastern Europe was foundation of Celtic population

Scientists from Dublin and Belfast have looked deep into Ireland’s early history to discover a still-familiar pattern of migration: of stone age settlers with origins in the Fertile Crescent, and bronze age economic migrants who began a journey somewhere in eastern Europe.

The evidence has lain for more than 5,000 years in the bones of a woman farmer unearthed from a tomb in Ballynahatty, near Belfast, and in the remains of three men who lived between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago and were buried on Rathlin Island in County Antrim.

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Nasa's Juno probe to make closest pass of Jupiter

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:53:05 GMT2016-08-26T15:53:05Z

Scientists expect unprecedented images of gas giant as $1.1bn probe makes first pass using full set of instruments and cameras

Nasa’s Juno spacecraft will make its closest pass of Jupiter on Saturday when it soars over the swirling cloud tops of the solar system’s largest planet at more than 125,000 miles per hour.

The close encounter will be the first time the $1.1bn (£840m) probe has its full suite of cameras and scientific instruments switched on and turned towards the planet as it flies overhead at an altitude of 2,600 miles.

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