Published: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 23:58:38 GMT2016-10-21T23:58:38ZCopyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:50:52 GMT2016-10-21T17:50:52Z
It will take weeks to understand exactly what happened, but images from Nasa’s Reconnaissance Orbiter show Schiaparelli’s parachute and landing site
The landing site of a European spacecraft that was supposed to make a historic touchdown on Mars this week has been identified in images that suggest the probe suffered a violent collision at the surface.
Images from Nasa Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show a large “fuzzy dark patch” that scientists think was caused by huge plumes of dust thrown up in a high-speed crash - and may even indicate the probe exploded on impact. Theprobe is believed to have gone down with full fuel tanks far faster than planned because its retrorockets, intended to slow it down, fired for only a few seconds before switching off prematurely.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:12:30 GMT2016-10-21T18:12:30Z
As scientists pore over the data from the unsuccessful Schiaparelli probe, ESA must convince European ministers that rover mission is worth a further €300m
For mission scientists, at least, the question is simple. What mishap befell the European Schiaparelli lander in its six minute descent to Mars? From the moment the probe lost radio contact on its way down, the search for an explanation - and the spacecraft itself - began.
Had the lander touched down as intended on Wednesday, Schiaparelli would have been the first European Space Agency (ESA) probe to operate on Mars. Now, having pored over data beamed back from the craft, engineers have an idea of what happened. Thinking it was near to the Martian surface, the lander switched off its braking thrusters. The premature command, in the final minute of descent, apparently proved fatal: the probe was still more than two kilometres above the ground.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:01:01 GMT2016-10-20T13:01:01Z
95m-year-old Savannasaurus elliottorum leads researchers to propose new theory of how sauropods spread around the world
A new species of giant herbivorous dinosaur has been found in outback Australia, helping to rewrite the textbooks on how the gentle giants spread around the globe.
The species is a member of the group of dinosaurs known as sauropods – such as the brontosaurus, which have long necks and four thick, pillar-like legs. It belongs to a subgroup called “titanosaurs”, thought to have evolved in South America.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:24:30 GMT2016-10-21T00:24:30Z
Spiders can control their web’s tension and stiffness to help them identify potential partners as well as prey, study shows
Spiders can control the tension and stiffness of their webs to optimise their sensory powers, helping them locate and identify prey as well as partners, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Much in same way that notes travel along a plucked guitar string, spider silk transmits vibrations in different frequencies, sending information back to the spider.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:00:13 GMT2016-10-19T17:00:13Z
Capuchins observed producing razor-edged stone pieces similar to earliest known hominin tools, rewriting view that only humans create such artefacts
Monkeys have been observed producing sharp stone flakes that closely resemble the earliest known tools made by our ancient relatives, proving that this ability is not uniquely human.
Previously, modifying stones to create razor-edged fragments was thought to be an activity confined to hominins, the family including early humans and their more primitive cousins. The latest observations re-write this view, showing that monkeys unintentionally produce almost identical artefacts simply by smashing stones together.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 07:00:30 GMT2016-10-20T07:00:30Z
Scientists use trick with a fake hand to explore how the mind combines information from the senses to create a feeling of body ownership
Experiments with a fake body part have revealed how the brain becomes confused during a party trick known as the rubber hand illusion.
Researchers in Italy performed the trick on a group of volunteers to explore how the mind combines information from the senses to create a feeling of body ownership.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:34:55 GMT2016-10-21T11:34:55Z
It all looked so promising: the European Space Agency was hoping to land the Schiaparelli probe on Mars, paving the way for a rover in 2020. Sadly it was not to be, though there’s some consolation in the successful positioning of the Trace Gas Orbiter. And in formulating theories about the interference of little green men. Of course there’s been some speculation this week that Earth’s “evil twin”, Venus, might actually have been our solar system’s first habitable planet, so that’s a bit of a boost. But possibly more exciting is the news that apparently healthy mice have been born from the world’s first artificial eggs. Though if the thought of all the deliciously knotty ethical conundrums that raises makes your head ache, you might be interested to know that researchers have found a possible link between gut bacteria and migraines. Our prescription? Take two paracetamol and come back next week for another restorative dose of Lab Notes ...Continue reading...
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 17:00:08 GMT2016-10-18T17:00:08Z
Research shows sufferers have higher levels of bacteria involved in processing nitrates, and could explain why some foods appear to act as migraine triggers
Migraine sufferers have a different mix of gut bacteria that could make them more sensitive to certain foods, scientists have found.
The study offers a potential explanation for why some people are more susceptible to debilitating headaches and why some foods appear to act as triggers for migraines.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:35:12 GMT2016-10-19T13:35:12Z
At London’s Natural History Museum, demise of queen ant spelt the end for her workers – but another queen is on her way
In the words of one observer, it is “possibly the saddest, most heartbreaking ‘This exhibit is currently out of order’ sign ever” – the ant colony at London’s Natural History Museum has a sign on it that reads: “The queen ant has died.”
The sign goes on to explain that:Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 02:55:26 GMT2016-10-19T02:55:26Z
China’s Shenzhou 11 manned spacecraft has successfully docked with the space lab, where two astronauts will now spend 30 days
China’s Shenzhou 11 manned spacecraft has successfully docked with China’s Tiangong 2 space lab and two astronauts have entered, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.
China is the third country after the United States and Russia to complete space rendezvous and docking procedures, Xinhua said.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:11:06 GMT2016-10-19T10:11:06Z
A newly calved iceberg, an ice avalanche in Tibet and urban growth in Nairobi were among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month
This striking image shows the Caspian Sea, with shallow waters surrounding the Tyuleniy archipelago revealing dark green vegetation on the sea floor. Ocean scientist Norman Kuring of Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center found a puzzling feature in the image – lines crisscrossing the sea bottom. What caused those lines? Similar lines show up in the world’s oceans because of trawling. But the scientific literature and a January satellite image suggest that a majority of the marks in the images were gouged by ice. In January, blocks of ice stand at the leading end of many lines, most notably in the north-east corner of the image. By April, ice has melted and only the scour marks persist.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 10:37:28 GMT2016-10-17T10:37:28Z
Often referred to as Earth’s evil twin, Venus is the solar system’s hottest planet. But research suggests that Venus may have had vast oceans and a balmy climate
Its surface is hot enough to melt lead and its skies are darkened by toxic clouds of sulphuric acid. Venus is often referred to as Earth’s evil twin, but conditions on the planet were not always so hellish, according to research that suggests it may have been the first place in the solar system to have become habitable.
The study, due to be presented this week at the at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Pasadena, concludes that at a time when primitive bacteria were emerging on Earth, Venus may have had a balmy climate and vast oceans up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) deep.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:31:48 GMT2016-10-17T15:31:48Z
Birth of apparently healthy mice from eggs created from stem cells has led to speculation that one day technique could be used to treat humans
The birth of baby mice made from artificial eggs has prompted calls for a public debate on whether the same approach should ever be offered by fertility clinics.
Nearly a dozen rodents were born after scientists created the early-stage mouse eggs from stem cells and nurtured them in the lab until they were mature enough to fertilise with mouse sperm.Continue reading...
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 06:30:31 GMT2016-10-18T06:30:31Z
How much of our memory is fictitious? And how is this psychological research now being applied to the world of eyewitness testimony and victim statements?
For decades now, we’ve known that our memories are not as infallible as we like to think. And with research now showing that researchers are able to plant entirely novel memories that never actually happened – the need for psychological research in the courtroom has never been more pressing. But as we find out, the world of false memory is a murky and uncertain one.
Helping Ian Sample clear the way this week is London South Bank University Criminologist and Expert Witness Dr Julia Shaw, and – one of the field’s most prominent pioneers - Professor Elizabeth Loftus, who bravely used much of her expertise during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:38:03 GMT2016-10-17T15:38:03Z
Scientists create the highest plasma pressure ever recorded with the Alcator C-Mod reactor in a breakthrough for clean energy technology
A nuclear fusion world record has been set in the US, marking another step on the long road towards the unlocking of limitless clean energy.
A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created the highest plasma pressure ever recorded, using its Alcator C-Mod tokamak reactor. High pressures and extreme temperatures are vital in forcing atoms together to release huge amounts of energy.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 01:59:06 GMT2016-10-17T01:59:06Z
The Shenzhou 11 astronauts will spend 30 days in space testing the station in preparation for the start of full operations in 2022
China has sent two astronauts into space on a mission to dock with an experimental space station and remain aboard for 30 days in preparation for the start of operations in six years.
The Shenzhou 11 mission took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China at 7:30am (2330 GMT) aboard a Long March-2F carrier rocket.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:33:19 GMT2016-10-21T12:33:19Z
A new prize is launched today for thinkers and writers who want to ask big questions and solve social problems. Here’s what the judges are looking for
Should a songwriter have scooped the Nobel prize in literature? In the debate over this year’s surprise award to Bob Dylan, it is easy to lose sight of the long history of prizes being used to recognise great writing (in whatever form), great research and other outstanding achievements.
The use of prizes dates back furthest in the sciences. In 1714, the British government famously offered an award of £20,000 (about £2.5 million at today’s value) to the person who could find a way of determining a ship’s longitude. British clockmaker John Harrison won the Longitude Prize and, by doing so, improved the safety of long-distance sea travel.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:46:05 GMT2016-10-20T13:46:05Z
Science has a diversity problem. Role models matter, so Raising Horizons aims to re-set imaginations by sharing two centuries of pioneering women geoscientists
Science in the 21st century is exploding with astonishing advances, yet we’re still waiting for a breakthrough in improving the diversity and representation of those doing the research. Recent headlines and reports underline the obstacles faced by minorities, including women: from female palaeontologists who get told to “pack light”, to sexual harassment scandals rocking scientific disciplines from astronomy to anthropology. Even where some fields show growing numbers of female students, the leaky pipeline hasn’t been fixed (80% of archaeology professors are male), and we’re still losing talented researchers further up the career ladder.
And it’s about more than gender. The persistent ethnic homogeneity of science is a problem easily an order of magnitude bigger. It seems that we’re still stuck in a web of outdated societal and institutional attitudes, including plain old sexism and racism, bad for people and for science. Which begs the question: what are we going to do about it?Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:05:32 GMT2016-10-20T10:05:32Z
A new poll suggests British people grossly underestimate public support for new energy technologies - is negative news reporting to blame?
Back in 2014, David Cameron told the House of Commons Liaison Committee that people are “basically fed up” with wind farms. In 2015, his government then went on to not only cut subsidies for onshore wind, but also make it harder and harder to get planning permission.
But politicians are wrong to think wind power is unpopular. Again and again, polls show the UK public are pretty supportive of onshore wind. Our ComRes poll out today, for example, shows 73% of the British public back onshore wind power. Politicians can only dream of such approval ratings.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:54:14 GMT2016-10-19T18:54:14Z
ExoMars Trace Gas orbiter successfully positioned, but engineers will work overnight to decode the reason why probe’s signal failed prior to landing
So that’s it for today. ESA will make their next official statements about the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli lander at 9am UK time tomorrow.
For the TGO, everything is peachy. The spacecraft is in the expected orbit and functioning normally. For Schiaparelli things don’t look so good.
And with that, ESA brings the press conference to a end.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:53:07 GMT2016-10-19T10:53:07Z
New research shows how geology drove the diversification and spread of songbirds, the world’s most abundant bird group
Today, songbirds are the most successful group of birds on the planet. With more than 5000 species worldwide, they form half of the world’s known bird species, and have colonised almost all corners of the world (with the exception of Antarctica).
Songbirds, or Passeriformes, are often referred to as “perching birds”, which refers to the arrangement of their toes - with three toes pointing forward and one pointing backwards - which allows them to comfortably cling to trees and branches. But to the outside world, they are best known for their well-developed vocalisations. Who hasn’t delighted in waking up in the middle of a summer night by birds enthusiastically welcoming the new day?Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 06:30:00 GMT2016-10-19T06:30:00Z
A successful Mars landing today will put the European Space Agency on course for a mission to search for life on Mars in 2020.
Today is a big day for the European Space Agency (ESA). It will attempt to land the Schiaparelli spacecraft on Mars and collect data from the surface.
“The way to see this landing is ESA gaining its spurs. This is ESA’s first controlled landing on a planet. So this is a key moment really,” says David Parker, ESA’s director of human spaceflight and robotic exploration.Continue reading...
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 06:30:31 GMT2016-10-18T06:30:31Z
The Higher Education and Research Bill has to be amended before it undermines the autonomy and vitality of our universities and the UK research base
Buried in the 113 subsections and 12 schedules of the 2016 Higher Education and Research Bill that is currently before parliament are massive constitutional changes that will undermine the autonomy and vigour of Britain’s universities and its research base. The issues are complex, and involve perturbations of the difficult balance of power, democracy, expertise, and academic freedom that will seem intangible to many. But institutions and processes that have been of demonstrable value to this country for decades and, in some cases, centuries, will be significantly eroded if this bill passes through parliament unamended.
As it stands the bill envisages far-reaching changes to the organisation of universities and research. It establishes the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), an assessment exercise based heavily on a variety of simple metrics with questionable relationships to teaching quality; it lowers the threshold that private providers must meet to become degree-awarding universities; and it will create a super-research council – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – led by a powerful chair and chief executive to oversee the near-totality of publicly funded research in the UK. Never before in the history of British science have so few individuals been been responsible for so much spendingContinue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 07:00:06 GMT2016-10-17T07:00:06Z
Wonderlab, the new interactive gallery for children at the Science Museum, is a mess of ethical and science communication contradictions.
“What do you wonder?” That is the question the Science Museum has been asking for many months now, in posters, celebrity videos and in online images. It’s been part of the museum’s strategy to ramp up excitement around its new “Wonderlab” gallery, a space full of interactive science exhibits designed to inspire children. But what many have been wondering is how Statoil, a major oil and gas company with plans to drill up to seven new wells in the Arctic, was allowed to become the gallery’s title sponsor? Welcome to Wonderlab – the Science Museum’s latest ethical contradiction.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 06:15:05 GMT2016-10-17T06:15:05Z
Mind gamers, here’s a strange little test for you. Which of these shapes is a bouba, and which is a kiki? And what does this have to do with the evolution of language?
Take a look at the two shapes in the image above. Imagine they were real-world objects that you’d found, and you had to give them a name – one has to be called ‘bouba’, and the other has to be called ‘kiki’. Which name would you assign to which object?
It probably makes intuitive sense to assume that the way that we map sounds onto objects, with the exception of onomatopoeias, is arbitrary. Take the word ‘ball’ for example - at face value, there’s nothing obvious that links the actual spherical object with the name that we’ve assigned to it. But is this mapping truly, completely random?Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 06:11:21 GMT2016-10-17T06:11:21Z
Edmund Harriss’s Curvahedra takes papercraft to the next dimension.
A decade ago Edmund Harriss inherited £10,000. But rather than spend the money on a car, a fancy watch or an expensive holiday, he bought a laser cutter.
“I wanted to make tiles and intricate shapes,” says Harriss, a British mathematician who teaches University of Arkansas. “A laser cutter is a powerful way to make ideas reality.”Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 21:58:08 GMT2016-10-21T21:58:08Z
New Zealand professor asked to present his work at US event on nuclear physics despite it containing gibberish all through the copy
A nonsensical academic paper on nuclear physics written only by iOS autocomplete has been accepted for a scientific conference.
Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:11:34 GMT2016-10-21T20:11:34Z
Images released by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Friday show new markings on the Red Planet’s surface that are believed to be ESA’s ExoMars Schiaparelli’s parachute and landing site. It appears the lander suffered a violent collision at the surface. Though Schiaparelli’s landing was unsuccessful, engineers will be able to use it as experience for future Mars missionsContinue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:41:24 GMT2016-10-20T14:41:24Z
European Space Agency not immediately certain that probe crashed but early data analysis indicates destructive impact on red planet
It was supposed to be the first European spacecraft to carry out science on Mars, but it now looks likely that the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Schiaparelli lander met its end in a destructive high-speed collision at the planet’s surface.
Although ESA has not yet conceded that its lander crashed – and it may be weeks before its fate is known for certain – scientists said that this appeared the most likely scenario.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:01:01 GMT2016-10-20T13:01:01Z
David Elliott’s discovery of a toe bone led to the remains of the huge Savannasaurus elliottorum in the latest in a series of finds on his sheep station in remote central Queensland. The new species is a member of the group of dinosaurs known as sauropods – such as the brontosaurus, which have long necks and four thick, pillar-like legs. It belongs to a subgroup called ‘titanosaurs’, thought to have evolved in South AmericaContinue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:04:01 GMT2016-10-20T12:04:01Z
The Schiaparelli probe is far from the first lander to fail to touch down safely on the red planet. Here are some key Mars missions that failed to phone home
The apparent failure of the European Space Agency’s Mars lander to touch down safely is just the latest of a series of setbacks for scientists eager to learn more about the red planet.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:18:13 GMT2016-10-20T09:18:13Z
European Space Agency says whereabouts of Schiaparelli craft unknown after it deploys parachute before signal goes dead
It travelled half a billion kilometres across the solar system, deployed its parachute flawlessly and survived a scorching descent through the Martian atmosphere, but the European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that its ExoMars lander was lost just one minute before it touched down on the surface of the red planet.
The Schiaparelli Mars lander showed the first signs of a glitch as it released its parachute 1km from the surface and the signal went dead soon afterwards, ESA scientists said on Thursday, leaving them unsure of where the probe is and whether it crash-landed.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 22:46:37 GMT2016-10-19T22:46:37Z
Exomars scientists wait and hope as fate of Schiaparelli lander remains uncertain
After a journey of seven months and half a billion kilometres across the solar system, the fate of the European Schiaparelli Mars lander was uncertain on Wednesday night amid fears that a last-minute glitch had scuppered hopes for a historic touchdown on the red planet.
Earlier in the day, the half-tonne spacecraft was on target to become the first from the European Space Agency to perform science on the Martian surface. But despite a seemingly perfect approach to the planet, the lander appeared to run into difficulty as it neared, or reached, the ground.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 22:00:19 GMT2016-10-19T22:00:19Z
Letter from medics and dieticians calls for improvement in training to reduce lifestyle-related deaths
Most doctors are ill-equipped to tackle Britain’s increasing frequency of lifestyle-related diseases because they know worryingly little about how nutrition and exercise can improve health, a group of prominent medics has claimed.
“There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the basic evidence for the impact of nutrition and physical activity on health among the overwhelming majority of doctors. This has its roots in the lack of early formal training,” they state in a letter to the Medical Schools Council (MSC) and General Medical Council (GMC).Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 21:02:04 GMT2016-10-19T21:02:04Z
A hypothetical giant world beyond Neptune, which could be located in the next few years, orbits at a 30-degree angle to other planets, astronomers said
Astronomers presented new research on the possibility of a gigantic, unseen planet beyond Neptune on Wednesday, saying the hypothetical world may have set the solar system at a tilt.
Researchers first suggested a massive ninth planet in January, saying that although this putative world would be about 10 times the size of Earth, it could have escaped a telescope’s notice because of its extreme distance from the sun. One year on this planet, according to their calculations, would last 17,000 years on Earth, and it would travel as far away as 93bn miles from the sun, where it would take light a week to arrive.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 20:05:29 GMT2016-10-19T20:05:29Z
Professor praises creation of Cambridge University institute to study future of artificial intelligence
Professor Stephen Hawking has warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”, and praised the creation of an academic institute dedicated to researching the future of intelligence as “crucial to the future of our civilisation and our species”.
Hawking was speaking at the opening of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University, a multi-disciplinary institute that will attempt to tackle some of the open-ended questions raised by the rapid pace of development in AI research.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 06:57:45 GMT2016-10-19T06:57:45Z
PM’s science award given to researcher who used minced cane toads in sausages to teach animals not to prey on larger, lethal toads
A biologist who came up with the idea to release small, non-lethal cane toads into the wild to teach snakes and lizards a life-saving lesson in bush tucker has been awarded the 2016 prime minister’s prize for science.
Rick Shine, from the University of Sydney, has led the world in cane toad research, and successfully taught quolls and goannas not to eat cane toads by feeding them sausages made from cane toads. After eating a non-lethal dose of cane toad poison, the predators learn not to eat large toads that will kill them.
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 17:10:11 GMT2016-10-18T17:10:11Z
If all goes to plan lander should touch down at 3.48pm UK time on Wednesday afternoon, after a journey of half a billion kilometres
Europe is poised to make its first successful touchdown on Mars on Wednesday, when its small robotic spacecraft connects with the planet’s surface after an epic journey across the solar system.
The Schiaparelli lander separated from its mothership, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), on Sunday and shortly the two crafts will begin a high-stakes sequence of manoeuvres. The TGO needs to swing into orbit about the planet while the lander begins its hair-raising descent to the dusty surface below.Continue reading...
Thu, 13 Oct 2016 23:01:19 GMT2016-10-13T23:01:19Z
Research suggests that picky eating and a refusal to try new foods are heavily influenced by a child’s genetic makeup
Parents who are driven to distraction by their toddler’s picky eating can take comfort in the fact that it’s just as likely to be down to nature as nurture.
According to research into the behaviour of 16-month old children, fussy eating and a refusal to try new foods are both heavily influenced by the child’s genetic makeup, and are not just a result of upbringing.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 05:26:08 GMT2016-10-19T05:26:08Z
Breakthrough the first indication the tumour is survivable and confirms research showing marsupials are rapidly evolving in response to the disease
Tasmanian devils have developed a natural immune response to the deadly facial tumour disease, confirming research that suggested the animals were rapidly evolving in response to the overwhelming threat.
Researchers from the University of Tasmania have identified six disease-resistant devils in the same small population since 2009.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:59:08 GMT2016-10-21T13:59:08Z
Before a public talk, if I remember to stand up straight and broaden my chest, I feel more confident
As you may have heard, and pardon the mixed metaphor, psychologists are up in arms about putting your hands on your hips. I’m talking about “power poses”, the simple physical gestures that, according to a TED talk by the Harvard academic Amy Cuddy, can transform your life. Before a job interview, adopt a pose like Wonder Woman – feet apart, hands on hips, shoulders back – and your stress hormones will fall, testosterone will rise, you’ll feel a surge of boldness, and have more chance of landing the job.
Or maybe not. A major attempt to replicate the original studies failed, and one of the researchers has admitted: “I do not believe that ‘power pose’ effects are real.” A related finding – that merely fixing a smile on your face can make you more upbeat – is looking shaky, too. All these techniques for boosting confidence feel like they ought to work. But scientists are no longer confident that they do.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:30:10 GMT2016-10-20T20:30:10Z
China launches pair of astronauts to occupy Tiangong 2, while Russia sends three more crew to ISS
There are now two crewed space stations in orbit around Earth. This week China launched two astronauts to their Tiangong 2 space station, inhabiting it for the first time. Meanwhile, a Russian Soyuz rocket is carrying three astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) to complement the existing crew.
China’s launch is their first crewed mission for more than three years. It blasted off from the Jiuquan satellite launch center in the Gobi desert on 17 October at 0730 local time.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:37:59 GMT2016-10-20T16:37:59Z
With the Orionids due to peak over the weekend, you can share your photos via GuardianWitness
Local weather conditions permitting, the next few days are the prime time for spotting the Orionid meteor shower.
The Orionids, formed from the debris of Halley’s comet, are so called as the area of the sky they appear to come from is a region to the north of constellation Orion’s bright star Betelgeuse.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:59:53 GMT2016-10-19T16:59:53Z
My father, Felix Franks, who has died aged 90, changed the way scientists understood water and introduced new ways of freeze-drying vaccines and of administering insulin.
He was born Felix Frankfurther, in Berlin. His father, Paul, was a fine musician but obliged to run the family textile business. His mother, Henriette, died in 1931 and his father later married Nina Lachman, also a keen musician.Continue reading...Felix Franks and his two sisters escaped from Germany and reached Britain in April 1939Felix Franks and his two sisters escaped from Germany and reached Britain in April 1939
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 14:00:40 GMT2016-10-18T14:00:40Z
My friend Alan Saville, who has died of cancer aged 69, was an archaeologist and museum curator. He was both outstanding prehistorian and industrious committee worker, not least as an executive of the European Association of Archaeologists, whose journal he edited. He began his career in southern England, and, after moving north in 1989, became a prominent figure in Scottish archaeology.
His most enduring achievement in the field is an excavation at Hazleton, Gloucestershire, which he directed between 1979 and 1982 while based at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. Responding to the agricultural destruction of prehistoric burial mounds in the Cotswolds, he decided to excavate an entire 60m-long Neolithic long barrow, funded, one season at a time, by the Department for the Environment. However, in 1984, the team were made redundant. Cheltenham council stepped in, the work was largely done by 1988, and Alan lost his job again.Continue reading...
Sun, 16 Oct 2016 09:30:31 GMT2016-10-16T09:30:31ZWith 400,000 YouTube subscribers and his first book on the way, French evolutionary biologist Léo Grasset talks about research, failure – and teaching people to think
Léo Grassest is a 27-year-old French evolutionary biologist whose offbeat, knowledgeable style has helped him amass more than 400,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel Dirty Biology. He also writes a blog called Dans les testicules de Darwin and is publishing his first book, How the Zebra Got Its Stripes.
Why is your channel is called Dirty Biology?
Everyday animals do stuff that we think is gross such as cannibalism or incest. It is my goal to show that biology, and the living world, is not a clean world – it is way more interesting than that.
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 06:00:33 GMT2016-10-10T06:00:33ZDr Chris Shambrook and his colleagues have helped turn Britain’s rowing team into a medal factory. Could the same methods help you win gold at work?
Be it a pool table in the office, beers on Friday or a nap room, the business world is constantly searching for the next psychological nudge to improve performance. Now, managers are turning to sports psychology to find the answers. This is the thinking behind Performance Fest, a corporate away day set up by PlanetK2, a group of Team GB psychologists.
The day’s events ranged from Brazilian drumming to dance choreography to martial arts sessions. I sat down with Dr Chris Shambrook, a sports psychologist who has worked with the British rowing team for five consecutive Olympic Games (a team that won three gold medals and two silvers at Rio 2016). Here, he explains the lessons that businesses can learn from great athletes.Continue reading...
Sun, 09 Oct 2016 20:30:21 GMT2016-10-09T20:30:21Z
The constellation of Pegasus dominates the southern sky, with its neighbouring watery constellations Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Cetus and Piscis Austrinus
Mars, the best placed of our three bright evening planets, stands low in Britain’s S sky in the early evening while Venus is brilliant but sets in the SW less than one hour after sunset. Saturn lies between them at present and is due to be passed by Venus on the 30th. Meantime, Jupiter and Mercury are in close conjunction low in the E just before dawn the 11th as Mercury sinks sunwards and Jupiter climbs to prominence in the mornings.Continue reading...
Sun, 09 Oct 2016 15:30:34 GMT2016-10-09T15:30:34Z
My mother, Sylvia Downs, who has died aged 89, always felt she had missed out on her education because she had attended many different schools, and one of them, where her father was headteacher, was an all boys establishment. The family moved around for his different teaching jobs. But she spent the rest of her life developing and implementing radical ideas about learning and training, working as an occupational psychologist, changing methods, attitudes and opportunities from the shop floor to senior management.
She was born in Chiswick, London, daughter of Alfred Wisdom and his wife, Hannah (nee Jeffries), known as Pat. During the second world war she was a radio mechanic in the Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service). Afterwards, she studied psychology at University College London and her first job was as a research assistant at the Child Study Centre in London.Continue reading...
Sun, 09 Oct 2016 08:45:07 GMT2016-10-09T08:45:07ZWhy does loud noise hurt? Do you lose weight if you break wind while on the bathroom scales? These are just some of the thousands of questions tackled by New Scientist, now collected in a new book
For more than two decades in the back pages of the New Scientist, readers have posed questions on topics that have confounded them and each week the magazine has published the best answers supplied by its readers. Here we publish some of those answers to the mysteries of the human body.Continue reading...
Sun, 09 Oct 2016 07:44:05 GMT2016-10-09T07:44:05Z
The tattooed astrophysicist has been the face of the Rosetta comet fact-finding project. What’s next for him as it comes to an end and what have we learned?
Few space missions can claim to be as dramatic as the European Space Agency’s Rosetta comet‑chaser. Launched in 2004, it captured the public’s attention in November 2014 because of its placing of the Philae lander on the “duck-shaped” comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in search of the chemicals that made life possible on Earth.
ESA project scientist Matt Taylor is the public face of the mission. Born in Manor Park, north-east London, the son of a bricklayer, he has become instantly recognisable thanks to his tattoos. We spoke to him shortly before Rosetta completed its final task, crash-landing on to the comet’s surface.Continue reading...
Sat, 08 Oct 2016 07:00:36 GMT2016-10-08T07:00:36Z
British scientists have helped the UK claim half of the awards given out so far this year, adding to a very healthy total over the years. But one country is way ahead
It has been a good year for British brains, which make up half the recipients of Nobel prizes in 2016 to date (the economics prize will be announced on Monday, while the literature prize comes later in the year).
British trio David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz received the 2016 physics prize, while Sir Fraser Stoddart shared in the chemistry prize, helping to boost the number of awards the UK has received in these categories to 23 and 24 respectively.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:43:40 GMT2016-10-21T09:43:40Z
We asked for our readers about the plans to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted under homophobic laws. Here’s what you said
The Ministry of Justice plans to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted of sexual offences that are no longer illegal. In a symbolic gesture, the MoJ said there would be no historical limit in relation to past offences – with those convicted set to be exonerated. Our readers have had their say on this issue.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 04:11:38 GMT2016-10-21T04:11:38Z
Websites pushing climate science denial are growing their audience in an era where populist rhetoric and the rejection of expertise is gaining traction
For years now geologists have been politely but forcefully arguing over the existence or otherwise of a new epoch – one that might have started decades ago.
Some of the world’s most respected geologists and scientists reckon humans have had such a profound impact on the Earth that we’ve now moved out of the Holocene and into the Anthropocene.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 10:54:00 GMT2016-10-19T10:54:00Z
Classics underpins much of the modern world; the AQA exam board’s decision to end A-levels in classical civilisation, archaeology and history of art is lamentable
I received a press release for a screening of Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq yesterday, an astonishing reworking of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata set among the modern-day gangs of Chicago (the death toll is so high that the residents name their city “Chi-Raq”, as though it were a warzone). It is certainly the best adaptation of Aristophanes I’ve ever seen, largely because of Lee’s obvious passion for the text, and his desire to make it accessible to a new audience.
The press release arrived in my inbox just before one announcing a Harry Potter Latin day in Oxford, where students in years 3 and 4 can study the Latin roots of Harry’s spells. And it arrived just after one about the exam board AQA, which has announced that it is abandoning classical civilisation, archaeology and history of art A-levels. Sir Tony Robinson has denounced AQA’s decision as “a barbaric act”.Continue reading...
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:56:22 GMT2016-10-18T18:56:22ZDropping archaeology, history of art and classical civilisation from the sixth form curriculum is cultural vandalism
First art history, then classical civilisation and now archaeology. One by one the A-level subjects that introduce British sixth formers to disciplines they may not come across at home are being axed from the curriculum to make way for what the Department for Education considers more rigorous studies. At least that appears to be the justification for removing these life-enhancing subjects, although the exam board AQA suggested it was more to do with the difficulty of standardising marking regimes across different papers. It is true that relatively few state schools offered the subjects, partly because there was a shortage of teachers in some parts of the country. It is also the case that, thanks to public service broadcasting and free museums, there are other ways of learning about the original inspiration for our contemporary sense of what is beautiful, or understanding how our ancestors lived and worshipped, or what principles guided classical life. But if such ideas are unfamiliar at home, or considered unimportant, there may be no guide to the museums and no incentive to watch Time Team or Britain’s Lost Masterpieces. In the name of a more demanding curriculum, the government is narrowing access to the culture that shapes our sense of ourselves and what it means to be human.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:07:14 GMT2016-10-17T09:07:14Z
The Ref star system encourages novelty but offers no incentive to replicate studies – and that’s exactly what scientists need to be more sure of our claims
The study of psychology is facing a crisis. A lot of research doesn’t show the same results when the experiment is repeated, and it is critical we address this problem. But the Research Excellence Framework has led to a research culture which is suffocating attempts to stabilise psychology in particular, and science in general.
The Ref encourages universities to push for groundbreaking, novel, and exciting research in the form of 4* papers, but it does not reward the efforts of those who replicate studies. As universities gear up for the next Ref submission in 2021, many researchers will not even consider attempts to replicate results.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 07:30:06 GMT2016-10-17T07:30:06ZAs a card-carrying fusspot who hates to cause offence, I usually cram down the offending food and feign enjoyment. Now I can deploy the supertaster defence
Research about why toddlers are fussy eaters always makes headlines. More than a mere national obsession, the subject has become a national neurosis. Last week a study suggesting that mealtime pickiness in small children is half attributable to genes was reported as “fussy-eating toddlers ‘not the fault of parents’”, and “Fussy eating habits of children are down to genetics not bad parenting, scientists conclude”.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 07:15:27 GMT2016-10-19T07:15:27Z
Winner of the prime minister’s prize for science Rick Shine and winner of the prime minister’s prize for innovation Michael AitkenContinue reading...
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 17:30:19 GMT2016-10-14T17:30:19Z
The ExoMars spacecraft, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), is set to launch the Schiaparelli lander towards Mars to begin its mission on the surface. After it has landed, the rover will collect soil samples on the Red Planet, while the TGO will orbit the planet. The units will be monitoring for methane traces and emissions, which could indicate the presence of microbes and therefore life on Mars. The lander is due to be launched on Sunday and it is expected to land on Wednesday afternoonContinue reading...
Wed, 05 Oct 2016 06:01:55 GMT2016-10-05T06:01:55Z
A collection of zoological wonders from September 2016, featuring gambling wolves, friendly tits and happy beesContinue reading...
Tue, 04 Oct 2016 18:20:22 GMT2016-10-04T18:20:22Z
One of the three British 2016 Nobel prize winners Duncan Haldane has called his win a gratifying recognition. Haldane adds no one goes into the business to win prizes, one goes in it to find neat stuff however it’s nice to see his work has had an impact. Haldane won the prize alongside David Thouless, and Michael Kosterlitz for work that may pave the way for quantum computers and other technologiesContinue reading...
Tue, 04 Oct 2016 10:46:09 GMT2016-10-04T10:46:09Z
A member of the Nobel committee attempts to explain what topology is using a cinnamon bun, a bagel and a pretzel. The three British scientists who won the Nobel prize for physics used the branch of maths called topology to redefine what was thought possible in materialsContinue reading...
Tue, 04 Oct 2016 07:30:47 GMT2016-10-04T07:30:47Z
Cameras outside the International Space Station capture images of Hurricane Matthew as it makes it way towards Jamaica and Haiti. Matthew, which has sustained winds of 140 mph (220kph), is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history and briefly reached the top classification, category 5, becoming the strongest hurricane in the region since Felix in 2007Continue reading...
Mon, 03 Oct 2016 14:03:07 GMT2016-10-03T14:03:07Z
Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi speaks on Monday after being awarded the Nobel prize in medicine for his discoveries on how the body’s cells detoxify and repair themselves. Ohsumi says there is no higher honour. He was speaking at a news conference in TokyoContinue reading...
Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:55:20 GMT2016-09-30T12:55:20Z
The moment controllers at the European Space Agency recognise the loss of Rosetta’s signal. The ESA’s probe ended its mission by crashing on comet 67P. It was sent into outer space to help scientists get a better understanding of how the Earth formed, where the water in Earth’s oceans came from, and how the chemical building-blocks of life were delivered to this planet
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:57:19 GMT2016-10-19T13:57:19Z
Most EU languages have imported the neologism as a masculine noun; if only agreeing how to implement it was so simple
The EU may be agreed on its response to Britain’s vote to leave, but on one key question it remains divided: is Brexit masculine or feminine?
In French, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is known as le Brexit, either – although the Académie Française has yet to rule on the question – because new words in French are almost invariably masculine, or because nouns ending in “t” mostly are (with a few exceptions: la nuit, la forêt, la plupart).Continue reading...
Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:55:20 GMT2016-10-13T18:55:20Z
Hubble telescope images from deep space were collected over 20 years to solve the puzzle of how many galaxies the cosmos harbors
There are a dizzying 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, up to 20 times more than previously thought, astronomers reported on Thursday. The surprising finding, based on 3D modeling of images collected over 20 years by the Hubble Space Telescope, was published in the Astronomical Journal.
Scientists have puzzled over how many galaxies the cosmos harbors at least since US astronomer Edwin Hubble showed in 1924 that Andromeda, a neighboring galaxy, was not part of our own Milky Way. But even in the era of modern astronomy, getting an accurate tally has proven difficult.Continue reading...
Sun, 30 Nov 2014 00:05:01 GMT2014-11-30T00:05:01ZSome can manage five minutes, others barely one. But the trick to holding your breath is actually rather surprising
How long can you hold your breath? I’m trying it right now. The first 30 seconds are easy. I’m ready to give up at 45 seconds but I push on through, and it seems to get easier for a while. But as the second hand ticks past a minute, I know I’m on borrowed time. My heart is pounding. I let out a tiny breath and this helps. Eventually I give in, expelling the spent air in my lungs and taking a huge gasp. (And continue to gasp for a few more breaths, prompting my husband to ask what on earth I’m doing). I manage one minute and 12 seconds. I’m quite impressed with myself.
Breath-holding ability becomes extremely important in some sports, particularly freediving. In 2006 I was filming a programme about the anatomy and physiology of the lungs for a BBC series called, slightly oddly, Don’t Die Young. I was lucky enough to meet Sam Kirby (now Sam Amps), who was captain of the UK freedive team. At a pool in Bristol she taught me some simple exercises to help me hold my breath for longer while swimming underwater. By the end of the session I hadn’t cracked freediving – I’d cracked one of Sam’s precious monofins on the bottom of the pool, and I think I’d managed a prodigious 90 seconds of breath-holding, enough to let me swim a width. Sam swam three widths with ease. She could hold her breath for five minutes, while swimming. Five!Continue reading...Swimmers can train themselves to last more than five minutes without breathing. Photograph: AlamySwimmers can train themselves to last more than five minutes without breathing. Photograph: Alamy
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:18:05 GMT2016-10-20T17:18:05Z
Excavation at a new art campus reveals the site of Roman siege to the city’s third wall, which led to destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD
Israeli archaeologists have found evidence of where Titus’s Roman legions may have breached the outer walls of Jerusalem in 70AD on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple – one of Judaism’s most historically and religiously resonant events.
The excavation was conducted last winter by a team working for the Israeli Antiquities Authority on a site intended for the construction of a new campus for an art school in the Russian compound area of Jerusalem.Continue reading...