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Science | The Guardian

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

Published: Fri, 18 Aug 2017 03:37:48 GMT2017-08-18T03:37:48Z

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

Memories of fear could be permanently erased, study shows

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:59:22 GMT2017-08-17T16:59:22Z

Research in mice reveals a new approach to wiping memories from the brain, demonstrating that specific memories can be weakened or strengthened

The eternal sunshine of a spotless mind has come one step closer, say researchers working on methods to erase memories of fear.

The latest study, carried out in mice, unpicks why certain sounds can stir alarming memories, and reveals a new approach to wiping such memories from the brain.

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New sperm creation method could overcome genetic male infertility – study

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:00:01 GMT2017-08-17T18:00:01Z

Healthy sperm have been created in mice with a common form of infertility, raising hope for future treatment for men with extra sex chromosomes

A common genetic cause of male infertility has been overcome in mice using a technique that creates healthy sperm in the laboratory, scientists have shown.

The research raises the future prospect of hope for men who cannot father children because they have three instead of two sex chromosomes.

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Scientists reveal why whisky tastes better with water

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:33:59 GMT2017-08-17T13:33:59Z

How best to enjoy whisky has long been debated, but two chemists say they have discovered why diluting your dram might make it taste better

Neat, on the rocks, or with a dash of mineral water. Whisky enthusiasts have long disagreed about how the amber nectar is best enjoyed, but now a scientific paper has backed the idea that diluting whisky can enhance its flavour.

The work suggests that adding water boosts the concentration of flavour compounds at the surface of the drink, helping to unleash the rich mix of aromas.

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Survival of premature babies more likely now than in mid-1990s, study shows

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:30:14 GMT2017-08-16T22:30:14Z

Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy are also less likely to have severe disabilities, although some risk of delayed development remains

Premature babies born in recent years are more likely to survive and less likely to have severe disabilities than those born in the mid-1990s, research has revealed.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 15 million babies worldwide are born before the 37th week of pregnancy every year, with premature babies at higher risk of severe disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, as well as a greater chance of delayed development of language and motor skills.

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'Scandal' of vaginal mesh removal rates revealed by NHS records

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:00:12 GMT2017-08-15T14:00:12Z

Traumatic complications mean one in 15 women fitted with the most common type of mesh support will require surgery to extract it, figures suggest

Vaginal mesh implants: ‘I really thought I was dying’

Thousands of women have undergone surgery to have vaginal mesh implants removed during the past decade, according to NHS records that reveal the scale of traumatic complications linked to the devices.

The figures, obtained by the Guardian, suggest that around one in 15 women fitted with the most common type of mesh support later require surgery to have it extracted due to complications.

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Fish mistaking plastic debris in ocean for food, study finds

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 05:30:31 GMT2017-08-16T05:30:31Z

Behavioural evidence suggests marine organisms are not just ingesting microplastics by accident but actively seeking them out as food

Fish may be actively seeking out plastic debris in the oceans as the tiny pieces appear to smell similar to their natural prey, new research suggests.

The fish confuse plastic for an edible substance because microplastics in the oceans pick up a covering of biological material, such as algae, that mimics the smell of food, according to the study published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Wax on, wax ouch: pubic grooming has a high injury rate, survey reveals

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 15:00:05 GMT2017-08-16T15:00:05Z

A quarter of those who groom their pubic hair have suffered mishaps from cuts to burns and rashes – some requiring medical help – researchers have found

Whether it’s shaving, waxing or laser hair removal, pubic grooming has become commonplace – but more than a quarter of those who remove hair have met with mishap in the process, research has revealed.

The study found that 76% of US adults quizzed said they removed some or all of their pubic hair, with almost 26% of those who groomed reporting that they had sustained at least one injury while doing so, ranging from cuts to burns and rashes.

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Cross Section: Dame Stephanie Shirley – Science Weekly podcast

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 15:32:13 GMT2017-08-16T15:32:13Z

Hannah Devlin speaks with the IT pioneer about her life as a woman in tech, having a son with autism, and how it all led to her later role as a philanthropist

Subscribe & Review on iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud & Acast, and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

In 1962, Stephanie Shirley - now Dame Stephanie Shirley - set up the computing company Freelance Programmers with just £6. The company was one of the first to commercialise software which, until then, had often been given away for free with computers. And with a gender balance of roughly one man for every hundred women, the company was pioneering in other ways too.

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'Most bizarre dinosaur ever found' is missing evolutionary link – study

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:18:36 GMT2017-08-16T11:18:36Z

Originally classified as a relative of T rex, analysis shows Chilesaurus belongs to a different dinosaurian group, with implications for the dinosaur family tree

An unusual vegetarian dinosaur with the silhouette of a flesh-ripping velociraptor, whose fossilised remains were unearthed in southern Chile 13 years ago, is a missing link in dinosaur evolution, researchers have said.

A revised assessment of the kangaroo-sized Chilesaurus diegosuarezi , reported in the journal Biology Letters, bolsters a theory unveiled earlier this year that threatens to upend a long-standing classification of all dinosaurs.

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Geneticists trace humble apple's exotic lineage all the way to the Silk Road

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:15:41 GMT2017-08-15T17:15:41Z

The fruit’s evolutionary history has been unpicked for the first time by studying a range of wild and cultivated apples from China to North America

It is a lunchbox staple so ubiquitous as to have become mundane. But the apple we know today is the fruit of an extraordinary journey, researchers have revealed.

Scientists studying the genetics of the humble apple have unpicked how the cultivated species emerged as traders travelled back and forth along the Silk Road – ancient routes running from the far east to the Mediterranean sea.

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Perseid meteor shower: everything you need to know to see it

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 20:40:00 GMT2017-08-12T20:40:00Z

The annual meteor shower will fill the night sky with glowing streaks this weekend, as the Earth travels through debris shed by comet Swift-Tuttle

From piquing the interest of astronomers to fuelling the musings of poets, meteor showers have left a trail of inspiration in their wake since humanity first peered up into the sky.

Now inspiration is set to strike once more. This weekend the night sky will be filled with glowing streaks as the annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak, with the best views in the northern hemisphere.

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'Most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in my life': US readies for total eclipse

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:00:11 GMT2017-08-15T10:00:11Z

Tyler Nordgren, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Redlands says eclipse watchers should be prepared for a multi-sensory experience

Millions of Americans will look up toward the sky on Monday 21 August and watch stars shine in the afternoon, feel the day’s heat swapped for an evening chill and hear the sounds of confused birds and animals during the first total eclipse seen in the continental US in 38 years.

The spectacular event in six days’ time will cross a strip of the country occupied by 12.2 million people, with millions more expected to travel to the 70-mile-wide eclipse path, aiming to catch a glimpse of a sight that has captured the imaginations of people for millennia.

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Analysis of Roman coins tells of Hannibal's defeat and Rome's rise

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-08-14T06:00:35Z

Scientists find that silver used came from mines on Iberian peninsula captured by Rome from Carthaginian leader

The defeat by the ancient Romans of Hannibal, despite the Carthaginian leader’s famous feat of marching his army – complete with war elephants – over the Pyrenees and Alps into Italy, also meant that the Romans captured the silver mines of the Iberian peninsula, bringing so much silver into the Roman empire that it can be traced through the coinage.

Scientists have for the first time analysed the silver content of a group of coins bracketing the Second Punic War from 218-201 BC, in which Hannibal initially inflicted humiliating defeats on the Romans, but was then forced by a counter-invasion to fall back to north Africa and ultimate defeat. The Carthaginians also lost control of the Iberian peninsula and the richest silver mines of the Mediterranean world.

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Space whisperers: the Aussies guiding Cassini's suicide mission to Saturn

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 18:00:20 GMT2017-08-13T18:00:20Z

The grand finale of Nasa’s epic 20-year mission to the ringed planet will be overseen from a deep space centre near Canberra. A photo essay by Jonny Weeks

On 15 September 2017 at about 10pm AEST, Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft will plunge deep into the hostile atmosphere of Saturn on a historic but suicidal course. It’s the grand finale of a 20-year mission which has revolutionised our understanding of the solar system and sent home more than a quarter of a million stunning images of Saturn and its moons.

Cassini’s instruments will be running to the last, capturing every possible byte of data from its closest encounter with the ringed planet before it ultimately evaporates.

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The bone collector: eccentric archaeological treasury to be digitised

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 07:00:52 GMT2017-08-11T07:00:52Z

The bone reports, body parts and even jokey postcards collected by founding figure of palaeopathology Calvin Wells will be available online for the first time

An archaeological treasury – the voluminous collection of papers, slides, research notes, recordings, jokey postcards, and miscellaneous bits of long-dead human beings collected by the late Calvin Wells – is to be digitised to make it available in its eccentric entirety to scholars for the first time.

The archive, for which the University of Bradford has won a grant of almost £140,000 from the Wellcome Trust, includes thousands of the “bone reports” for which Wells became famous. The reports were based on boxes of human remains sent by archaeologists to Wells’s home and studied on the kitchen table.

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Hacking a computer using DNA is now a reality, researchers claim

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:35:21 GMT2017-08-11T12:35:21Z

Sci-fi becomes reality as University of Washington lab uses strands of DNA to hack into a computer, but experts say there’s no cause for concern

Researchers from the University of Washington say they have successfully hacked into a computer using custom strands of DNA for the first time.

Akin to something from the pages of science fiction, the researchers used the life-encoding molecule to attack and take over a computer, using strands of DNA to transmit a computer virus from the biological to the digital realm.

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Lab notes: have some extra salt with those nanochips – a tasty week in science

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:21:11 GMT2017-08-11T12:21:11Z

A nanochip that sits on the skin and uses an electric field to reprogramme cells could be a breakthrough in the way we treat injured or ageing tissue, say researchers. Will it keep us healthy for longer? Or is that something that increasing our salt intake could help with? Scientist James DiNicolantonio thinks so, but his new book The Salt Fix has public health bodies falling over themselves to condemn his advice. We need to nail this healthy eating thing (not necessarily clean eating, though) if we’re going to live long and prosper on other planets. And given that a new discovery about the Moon’s magnetic field has raised fresh possibilities in the hunt for new worlds, we should really get on it quicksticks. Finally, two excellent yarns for all you bone lovers out there. Firstly, some good news from Bradford University, who are to digitise the slightly bonkers archive of the boundlessly eccentric palaeopathologist Calvin Wells, sadly without the shrunken head, but still: interesting objects abound. Secondly, analysis of bones found in a Somerset cave (which have already been linked to human cannibalism 15,000 years ago) has revealed evidence of ritualistic engravings. A charming combination of the horrifying and fascinating to start your weekend!

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A 'murder' mystery with a toxic twist ... and pygmy goats

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:56:37 GMT2017-08-17T11:56:37Z

Three victims, a country house and poison could be a case for Hercule Poirot. But this is a sad case of botanical ignorance rather than murder most foul

A recent report appeared in the news about the sad demise of Mirabel, Adele and Jet of Walton Hall, Cheshire. The deaths were initially suspected of being due to deliberate poisoning when it became clear that there had been intruders in the grounds of the hall. The case seemed to have all the ingredients for an Agatha Christie novel: multiple deaths, poison, suspicious circumstances and even a big country house setting.

Except in this case the unfortunate victims were not characters in a novel, or even people: they were African pygmy goats. Four other goats were affected by the poison but have since made a full recovery. And the source of the poison? Rhododendron leaves found in the goats’ enclosure.

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'Rivers of bones': rituals of life, death and hunting in the American west

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:52:11 GMT2017-08-17T10:52:11Z

Communal bison hunts were used by Native Americans for upwards of 11,000 years on the great plains to procure meat and other goods for the winter

It’s still morning, a slight chill in the air. You feel the rumbling of the earth before you even see the mass of bison pounding across the prairie toward the precipice, and toward you. As you stand beside the rock cairn, boughs of sage or juniper in your hands, and in the hands of your friends flanking you on either side, and across the way, you see the others draped in wolf skins, who lured the animals to this final moment. Your comrade starts the yelling just a moment before the bison reach you, and you join in, urging them towards the edge, reminding the beasts not to turn, before they thunder past, hurtling into the arroyo.

Below there are more people, to finish off the bison who survived the fall, and to start separating the useful from the non-useful, and hauling it nearby where even more people are waiting to butcher the sections properly.

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Does Palaeontology have an image problem? | Elsa Panciroli

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 07:30:33 GMT2017-08-16T07:30:33Z

Palaeontology is synonymous with excavating fossils, but the stereotype of the rugged, white, male digger, could be a barrier to diversity in Earth science

As I eye myself in the mirror before heading off to the office for another day of palaeontological research, I wonder: ought I to be wearing a hat? Preferably wide-brimmed, even a Stetson. I button up my teal cardigan – shouldn’t that be a checked shirt? Or a t-shirt with a T rex meme emblazoned across the front? And where are my hiking boots? No-one ever studied extinct animals in a skirt and tights now, did they?

“She’s too well dressed to be a palaeontologist,” a male colleague recently commented to me, regarding a leading female researcher. It was said in jest, but I was troubled by the inference that there was a “correct” way to dress for our job. I found myself wondering: do I fit in with my colleagues? Does a desire to colour-match suggest you’re a less dedicated researcher?

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Did you solve it? Are you a match for these match puzzles?

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 16:00:10 GMT2017-08-14T16:00:10Z

The solutions to today’s firelighters

On my puzzle blog earlier today I set the following three questions:

A barracks (the matchbox below) is surrounded by 24 guards (matchsticks) in groups of three, such that when the sergeant drives once around the guards to check that they are all there he sees two rows of 9 guards (the top and bottom rows), and two columns of 9 guards (the left and right columns).

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Can you solve it? Are you a match for these match puzzles?

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 06:15:35 GMT2017-08-14T06:15:35Z

For bright sparks!

UPDATE: you can read the solutions here

Hi guzzlers,

The first two puzzles today come from reader Gabriella Horvath, who lives in Hungary. She first came across them in her childhood, during the Soviet-backed socialist regime, at a time when many people smoked, and when military service was compulsory. Match puzzles about soldiers were guaranteed entertainment.

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The BBC needs to accept that Nigel Lawson doesn’t exist

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:14:39 GMT2017-08-11T10:14:39Z

Climate change is serious: the BBC needs to stop this obsession with ‘balance’ and reject the scientifically-discredited argument that Nigel Lawson exists

The BBC has recently come under fire for a Radio 4 programme which featured Nigel Lawson criticising the concept of climate change. This has drawn the ire of many scientists, and rightly so. The science on this matter is settled, there is no meaningful debate to be had, and the evidence is there for all to see should they choose to go and look for it. Basically, Nigel Lawson isn’t real.

It’s all very well putting forward opposing views in the name of “balance”, although it’s worth noting that the importance of “balance” at the BBC seems to differ wildly depending on the subject matter. You seldom get Flat Earth proponents giving contrasting weather forecasts to combat the globular bias in meteorology, and it seems the BBC is perfectly happy broadcasting debates about whether the Welsh language deserves to exist which feature, you know, NOBODY WHO ACTUALLY SPEAKS IT. Balance isn’t a priority in these instances, clearly. But the increasingly-unhinged and militant types who insist that Nigel Lawson exists, they must be given airtime apparently. It boggles the mind.

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Just say 'know' to drugs: can testing facilities make festivals safer?

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 13:04:06 GMT2017-08-10T13:04:06Z

Drug testing is increasingly becoming part of UK festivals and clubs. Could it be an effective way to change behaviour and reduce the harmful effects of drugs?

For the first time, people going to BoomTown this weekend will be able to find out what’s in the drugs they plan to take, by getting them tested by non-profit organisation The Loop. Front of house drugs safety testing, or Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST), was first offered by The Loop at Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling in 2016. This was such a success that they have been invited to provide their service at a number of festivals this year, BoomTown being the next on the calendar.

A growing number of festivals are now openly discussing a new approach to drugs, based on information and harm reduction rather than criminal justice. This shift in attitudes is coming at a very welcome time. Recent developments in the European drug market have seen an unprecedented rise in the strength of ecstasy tablets, with a number of recent reports of adverse health effects, including emergency medical treatment and fatalities, attributed to MDMA toxicity. Indeed, Office for National Statistics figures show an eightfold increase in deaths related to ecstasy in five years, rising to 63 in 2016 from an all-time low of 8 in 2010.

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The human cost of the pressures of postdoctoral research

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:05:36 GMT2017-08-10T12:05:36Z

A paper on conformal algebra has recently caused a stir on social media. Not because of the science, but rather the heartfelt plea in the acknowledgements

Every scientist knows how difficult it is to get a research paper published; reviewers may take exception to the way a study might have been run, or the way the data are analysed, or how the results have been interpreted. It’s part of the process, and hopefully, the end point is a more scientifically useful paper, something that adds new meaning to a research discipline.

When Oliver Rosten sent a new paper to the Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP), ultimately it wasn’t rejected because of the science – this was deemed sound. It was because of the acknowledgement:

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It was all yellow: did digitalis affect the way Van Gogh saw the world?

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 07:00:30 GMT2017-08-10T07:00:30Z

Extracted from foxgloves, digitalis was once used as a treatment for epilepsy. Could a side effect have triggered the artist’s “yellow period”?

It was recently the 127th anniversary of the tragic death of Vincent van Gogh. His short life came to an untimely end two days after he shot himself in the chest; he had experienced mental health issues through much of his life. In the absence of a definitive diagnosis, speculation as to the true nature of his illness fills volumes.

Although he came under the care of several doctors during his life time, knowledge of diseases of the mind was in its infancy in the late nineteenth century. As a result, many of the treatments used at the time would have been ineffective if not potentially dangerous. From our point of view, however, one drug that might have been given to Van Gogh is particularly interesting.

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Why do cephalopods produce ink? And what's ink made of, anyway?

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 11:35:53 GMT2017-08-09T11:35:53Z

Cephalopods such as octopuses and squid have been known for their ink since antiquity. But what do we know about the evolution of ink and inking?

Cephalopods, the group of molluscs that includes octopuses, cuttlefish, squids, ammonites, nautiluses and belemnites, are a weird bunch. Not only are they strange when anatomically compared to their shelled relatives like bivalves, snails and chitons but their evolution, physiology and behaviour makes them almost as interesting as vertebrates (I’m kidding, they’re way more interesting).

Despite there only being around 700 living species of cephalopods, biologically, they have evolved an array of adaptations that modern science is still only just unpicking. Neurologically, they are head (and shoulders if they had them) above all other invertebrate animals, sometimes called honourary vertebrates for their cognitive ability and potential conciousness. They are famed for their ability to change colour, shape and size. Many of them are fast growing but short lived. They have adapted to live in the cold depths of the ocean, warm shallows and some species even “fly”. In terms of diversity, cephalopods include the egg case making argonauts, shelled nautiluses, venomous blue-ringed octopuses and enigmatic giants like the giant and colossal squid. Their anatomy has widely inspired art and design and research on their nervous system has lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of how the neurology of all organisms functions. However, before most of this was experimentally and observationally discovered, they were perhaps best known for their “almost unique” ability to squirt ink when harangued, creating a smokescreen before jetting off to safety.

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UK fracking may produce less fuel than claimed, says geologist

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:01:03 GMT2017-08-17T05:01:03Z

Prof John Underhill argues that geology is fundamental but has been forgotten in assessments of UK’s shale gas capability

Fracking for oil and gas in the UK may produce much less fuel – and profits – than has been mooted, according to research based on seismic imaging of the country’s underlying geology.

Most of the areas in which deposits of onshore “unconventional” gas and oil are likely to be found were affected by tectonic activity along the Atlantic plate about 55m years ago.

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Peanut allergy cured in majority of children in immunotherapy trial

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:35:25 GMT2017-08-16T22:35:25Z

Australian researchers hail breakthrough after ‘life-changing’ tolerance persists for up to four years

Australian researchers have made a breakthrough in the treatment of peanut allergy in children.

A small clinical trial conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has led to two-thirds of children treated with an experimental immunotherapy treatment being cured of their allergy. Importantly, this desensitisation to peanuts persisted for up to four years after treatment.

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UK needs 71,000 more care home places in eight years, study predicts

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:30:22 GMT2017-08-15T22:30:22Z

Britain faces a worsening social care crisis with people living longer but with substantial care needs, researchers say

An extra 71,000 care home spaces are needed in the next eight years to cope with Britain’s soaring demand as people living longer face more health problems, a study has found.

New research predicts there will be an additional 353,000 older people with complex needs by 2025, requiring tens of thousands more beds.

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Vaginal mesh implants: 'I really thought I was dying'

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:00:12 GMT2017-08-15T14:00:12Z

Carolyn Churchill was in agony after mesh surgery, but doctors were reluctant to blame her implant, even suggesting the pain might be a mental health issue

Six years ago, Carolyn Churchill, 57, from near Pontypridd in Wales, was in a long-term relationship, worked as a chef, and spent hours each week walking with her dogs and looking after her granddaughter’s pony. She was busy and content, but was bothered by stress incontinence, which affects roughly 10% of women.

“Never knowing when you’re going out if you’re going to wee yourself. It really got to the stage where it was embarrassing,” she recalls.

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GPs in England 'unconfident' discussing physical activity with patients – report

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:05:05 GMT2017-08-15T05:05:05Z

Less than two-thirds of doctors feel confident discussing activity levels and almost a third have never heard of national guidelines

The majority of doctors in England are unfamiliar with recommended levels of physical activity, with fewer than two-thirds confident about discussing the topic with their patients, researchers have revealed.

Set out in July 2011 by the Chief Medical Office, national guidelines recommend that adults aged between 19 and 64 undertake 75 minutes of intense activity or 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.

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Perseid meteor shower seen over Greece – timelapse video

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:29:30 GMT2017-08-13T12:29:30Z

The annual Perseid meteor shower filled the sky will glowing streaks over the weekend near the archaeological site of Mesimvria outside Alexandroupoli in northern Greece. As the meteors burn up, they can appear as green, white or orange streaks across the sky

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Close encounter: asteroid the size of a house set for near miss with Earth

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 01:04:09 GMT2017-08-11T01:04:09Z

Space rock 2012 TC4 expected to zoom by harmlessly, coming within 27,300 miles – an eighth of the distance from the Earth to the Moon

A house-sized asteroid will shave past our planet on 12 October, far inside the Moon’s orbit but without posing any threat, astronomers have said.

The space rock will zoom by harmlessly at a distance of about 27,300 miles (44,000km) – an eighth of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, according to the European Space Agency. It is outside the roughly 36,000km orbit of geostationary satellites.

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Porta-potties, police, prayers: how a tiny Idaho town prepares for the solar eclipse

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:00:45 GMT2017-08-17T10:00:45Z

Weiser, Idaho, could see its population of 5,507 swell to 70,000 for the total solar eclipse. As the big day looms, will things go smoothly?

The portable toilets began arriving in Weiser, Idaho, on Tuesday, the first of around 70 orange outhouses ordered by local agengies for the Great American Eclipse.

They will serve a crowd that could reach 70,000 by the time this tiny town on the Oregon border is plunged into total darkness on Monday.

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No More Boys and Girls: Can Kids Go Gender Free? review – reasons to start treating children equally

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:40:43 GMT2017-08-17T08:40:43Z

Critics called it shocking and harmful, but BBC2’s gentle documentary shows us the major impact of unconscious sexism at school

No More Boys and Girls: Can Kids Go Gender Free? (BBC2) caused a minor controversy before it aired, labelled “shocking” and “bold” by some reports, and even “potentially very harmful” by Grassroots Conservatives’ reliably facile Mary Douglas. This is not surprising. Such is the frenzy and hysteria about trans lives right now – particularly from otherwise sensible and compassionate people who have a blind spot when it comes to empathising with transgender people – that “gender-free” invokes a ridiculous bogeyman image of, say, experimental Scandinavian neutrality where saying “boy” or “girl” is forbidden, or pre-puberty hormone-blockers being forced upon girls who are tomboys. It is transparently a disproportionate and irrational fear, yet it’s little wonder that a show that promises to discuss gender with a classroom full of seven-year-olds has stoked these paranoid flames.

The title, though, is far more fiery than anything contained in the programme, which isn’t even vaguely about questioning gender identity. This two-part documentary, the brainchild of presenter and Médecins Sans Frontières doctor Javid Abdelmoneim, is actually a rather gentle social experiment that asks: what would happen to a classroom of seven-year-olds if they weren’t treated differently as boys and girls? This translates to such things as painting the pink and blue coat cupboards a universal orange and no longer segregating children according to gender, or introducing the kids to people who have jobs they might not expect, such asa female mechanic or a male dancer, or reading them stories in which the princess is also the hero of the story, and does not need rescuing by a prince. Potentially very harmful, indeed.

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Moon had magnetic field at least a billion years longer than thought – study

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 18:00:37 GMT2017-08-09T18:00:37Z

Even small planets could have long-lived magnetic fields, crucial for atmosphere and water, raising fresh possibilities in the hunt for new worlds

The moon’s magnetic field lasted at least a billion years longer than previously thought, researchers have revealed, shedding light on an enduring lunar mystery and expanding the possibilities in the hunt for habitable worlds beyond Earth.

Nowadays, the moon has no global magnetic field, but that was not always the case; between 4.25bn and 3.56bn years ago, the lunar magnetic field was similar to that of the Earth. The field is thought to have been generated by the churning movement of fluids within the moon’s molten core – a sort of lunar dynamo.

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Monster mash: does the Frankenstein dinosaur solve the mystery of the Jurassic family tree?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:57:05 GMT2017-08-16T14:57:05Z

Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, named after the seven-year-old who discovered it, changes everything we thought we knew about dino evolution …

Name: Chilesaurus diegosuarezi.

Nickname: The Frankenstein dinosaur.

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Ethnicity is not something dictated by people’s genes | Letters

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:59:22 GMT2017-08-14T17:59:22Z

John Collis on the limitations of DNA testing, Peter McKenna on the Romans and race, and Alun Thomas on West Midlands history

DNA testing to determine people’s origins (DNA uncovers villagers’ exotic heritage, 11 August) should come with a major health warning as interpretations are based on false scientific methodologies.

First, there is a confusion between two types of data. Our DNA is what we inherit from our parents and, until recently at least, could not be altered. Ethnic or “racial” terms like “English” are culturally constructed “imagined communities” and can be altered and redefined. Though genes may affect our perception of ethnicity (eg in skin colour) it is not dictated by them.

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Sir Patrick Bateson obituary

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:07:19 GMT2017-08-14T12:07:19Z

Leading scientist who focused on the biological origins of animal behaviour

Sir Patrick Bateson, who has died aged 79, was a scientist whose work advanced the understanding of the biological origins of behaviour. He will also be remembered as a man of immense warmth and kindness, whose success as a leader, teacher and administrator of science owed much to his collaborative spirit, generosity and good humour.

He was a key figure in ethology – the biological study of animal behaviour. As well as being a conceptual thinker who revelled in painting the big theoretical picture, he was an accomplished experimental scientist. He published extensively, with more than 300 journal papers and several books to his name.

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Cancer treatment: sorting the good news from the hype

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 05:30:34 GMT2017-08-14T05:30:34Z

The newspapers love a cancer research story, but many are misleading or won’t affect patients for many years. But there is plenty of progress worth reporting

Every news story about cancer research should come with a health warning: believe the hope, but not the hype. Good headlines are quick and catchy, good science is steady steps taken on a complicated issue over a long time. If a new treatment is still being researched, it could be metaphorical miles and actual years away from getting into the hands or bodies of patients. As blogger Kay Curtin, who has advanced melanoma, puts it: “The media tend to pick one line on a report and run with it, but they do not draw attention or highlight that it’s just a potential benefit, or the fact that many of these are just proven in a petri dish or a mouse and very often do not prove effective when tested on humans. It is cruel to existing patients to make claims with misleading headlines.”

One of the best ways to deal with cancer is to divide and conquer, based on as much knowledge as we can get of how individual tumours work. Treating all cancers from the same part of the body equally isn’t good enough – you must match the right patient with the right treatment.

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Great solar eclipse countdown under way

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 20:30:23 GMT2017-08-13T20:30:23Z

How to enjoy the full eclipse experience on 21 August, during the first total solar eclipse to cross the USA from coast to coast since 1918

The countdown to the Great American Eclipse on 21 August is entering its final week as eclipse-watchers are completing their plans for the first total solar eclipse to cross the USA from coast to coast since 1918.

Millions live in the path of totality, the corridor up to 115km wide that visits 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Millions more will converge on it so that highways may be gridlocked and hopes of chasing clear weather may be curtailed. Even for those under clear skies, though, one has to wonder just how many will enjoy the full eclipse experience.

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Jo Draper obituary

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 15:48:02 GMT2017-08-13T15:48:02Z

My friend Jo Draper, who has died aged 68 from cancer, was an author, editor, archaeologist, museum curator and an authority on post-medieval pottery. Much of her considerable output focused around Dorset and her adopted home town of Dorchester.

Born near Winchester, Hampshire, the daughter of John and Betty Draper, Jo espoused the common-sense values of her farming background. Encouraged by a teacher at Fareham girls’ grammar school to take part in an archaeological dig in Portsmouth in 1964, she moved on to join Barry Cunliffe’s key excavations at Portchester Castle and Fishbourne Roman Palace, near Chichester, West Sussex. She then enjoyed a happy stint at Southampton University, where she met and married Christopher Chaplin, then an archaeologist and later a land surveyor for the Ordance Survey.

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Celestial target of small worlds beyond Pluto

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 20:30:39 GMT2017-08-10T20:30:39Z

Astronomers ponder the make-up of an oddly shaped Kuiper belt object before Nasa’s spacecraft completes a flyby in 2019

Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft is making good progress towards its next target, an elongated mini planet which may actually be two smaller worlds in orbit around one another.

Since New Horizons made the first ever flyby of Pluto, in July 2015, the spacecraft has been heading into the depths of the solar system. This region is known as the Kuiper belt, and, rather like an icy asteroid belt, is the home to a large collection of celestial objects.

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Life after the bomb: exploring the psychogeography of Hiroshima

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 07:00:35 GMT2017-08-06T07:00:35Z

On the anniversary of Hiroshima’s nuclear destruction, a walk through the city’s memorial park reveals a complex mix of devastation and rehabilitation

Hiroshima is flourishing. It has a population surpassing 1.19 million, a burgeoning gourmet scene, towering luxury shopping centres, and a trendy night life. It is a city of vibrant green boulevards and open spaces, entangled by the braided tributaries of the Ōta River. However it is also a city of memorialisation. Over 75 monuments, large and small, sprout like delicate mushrooms in parks and on sidewalks, scattered across the city as if by the wind. Whilst the city grows and evolves, the memory remains of Hiroshima as first place on Earth where nuclear weapons were used in warfare, on 6 August 1945.

The number of fatalities is not known, due wartime population transience and the destruction of records in the blast. Estimates are in the region of 135,000 people, roughly equivalent to the population of Oxford. It is therefore unsurprising that many locals have Hibakusha veterans in their families. The Hibakusha community maintain a living collective memory of the bomb, sharing their atomic folktales similarly to the Kataribe storytellers, as a cautionary modern mythology against nuclear war.

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Chilesaurus is the dinosaur discovery of the century | Brian Switek

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 09:36:01 GMT2017-08-17T09:36:01Z

This herbivorous creature could be the missing link in the dinosaur family tree, changing everything we think we know about their evolution

Chilesaurus doesn’t look like the kind of dinosaur that would kick up much of a fuss. The Jurassic saurian – named for the country, not the tasty peppers – was a small, bipedal herbivore that munched on plants over 150m years ago. It didn’t have nasty teeth, crazy horns, or the immense body size that typically launch the careers of Mesozoic celebrities. The creature’s secret is more subtle, and plays into a controversial reshuffling of the dinosaur family tree.

Related: 'Most bizarre dinosaur ever found' is missing evolutionary link – study

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The Guardian view on vaginal mesh implants: trust data and patients | Editorial

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:40:38 GMT2017-08-16T18:40:38Z

The devices have benefited a large number of women – but thousands have suffered serious adverse effects

The numbers tell their own tale. Thousands of women have undergone surgery to have vaginal mesh implants removed after suffering complications. Around one in 15 of those fitted with the most common type of mesh have required operations, according to NHS data obtained by the Guardian. In short, the problems are much more widespread than previously acknowledged. The removal rate was previously estimated at less than 1%.

But numbers are not enough. Each case is a woman with a disturbing story; and listening is as important as tallying them. Carolyn Churchill had to give up work after she was left in agony, with persistent bleeding. Yet she said she was made to feel like a baby for complaining. Others describe being left unable to walk or have sex – and of being assured that the implant was not responsible. So even this data under-represents the problem. Women may not be referred for removal, or may decide against it given the risks.

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Why do beavers build dams? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Jules Howard

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 07:00:32 GMT2017-08-16T07:00:32Z

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

Here is a beaver-based creation myth. It begins thus. God so loved the world that He seeded it with diligent rodents able to do the hard work of habitat creation – damming streams and creating ponds and lakes in which amphibian larvae thrived, providing food for water beetles and dragonfly nymphs and a host of other invertebrates which fed the fish that early humans consumed. God gave us beavers to make the landscapes upon which we depended – that’s the myth I want you to imagine for the sake of this piece.

It goes on. My creation myth believes that the wetlands that these early creatures created washed away and purified humanity’s poisons. And that these holy creatures, The Beavers, saved us from Biblical floods by slowing the flow rate of sudden aggregations of water. Again and again, The Beavers saved us, but in time, predictably, things changed. We humans came to turn our backs on them. We forgot about Beavers, and God was not pleased about humankind’s insolence.

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There's a way to save hedgehogs – and all of us can help | Hugh Warwick

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:54:00 GMT2017-08-15T13:54:00Z

By taking part in projects such as counting hedgehog homes, ordinary people enable scientists to understand and protect Britain’s much-loved wildlife

Today sees the launch of the “hedgehog housing census”. All over the country, thousands of people are going to the trouble and expense of building or buying hedgehog homes. We want to know how important this is to the lives of one of our most loved animals – and how we can improve the way we help hedgehogs in the future.

For a hedgehog scientist – and believe me, there are such things – gathering the volume of information required to make this a meaningful study cannot be done alone. They would need to get into thousands of gardens, assess the structures, what they are made of, where they are situated. They would also need to see what other features the garden had that might encourage hedgehogs, such as access. One of the key messages from our Hedgehog Street campaign is the necessity to make small holes, around the size of a CD case, at the bottom of fences and walls to allow the animals to roam.

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Should we transplant pig organs into humans? | Chas Newkey-Burden and Susan Watts

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 08:00:09 GMT2017-08-15T08:00:09Z

With a breakthrough in gene editing, the prospect of breeding animals to harvest their organs looms. Chas Newkey-Burden and Susan Watts go head to head

Pigs are intelligent creatures with social instincts and emotional depth. We are so closely related to them that their hearts can replace our own. But what sort of person would kill a relative for spare parts?

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Science should be taught like art or music: grab a test tube and have a go | Tom McLeish

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 15:33:00 GMT2017-08-14T15:33:00Z

Science is not just for boffins. If we can get our minds around football statistics, we can handle scientific enquiry – starting in primary school

Science is not just the brainy preserve of the stereotypical boffins you see on TV. In an interview last week, the head of the British Science Association, Katherine Mathieson, said this formal public image was not helpful and that we need to see more of the everyday people involved in science. She called for this everyday approach to science to extend to teaching, with creative experiments involving “genuine open-ended research by pupils, rather than fiddling around with beakers”.

Related: Science classes won’t future-proof our children. But dance might | Christina Patterson

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If you care about identity politics your priority has to be saving the planet | Matthew Todd

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:00:38 GMT2017-08-14T09:00:38Z

You expect to find climate change denial on the right. But from the left too, there is a strange silence about the single most pressing issue facing humanity

Someone writes a memo about his views on gender difference and it kicks off. Apparently women are in tears, too traumatised to go to work. A baker refuses to ice a wedding cake for two guys and my Twitter feed practically bursts into flames. “HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING?!”

But mention the climate crisis, something that is smashing temperature records, raising sea levels, driving diseases into places they’ve not been before, and which may lead, as Professor Stephen Hawking suggests, to a need for the human race to flee the planet, and there’s radio silence. You can almost see the digital tumbleweed.

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Radical millennials are a climate force to be reckoned with | Geoff Dembicki

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 10:00:10 GMT2017-08-13T10:00:10Z

The window for hope is closing rapidly for the planet. But young activists are demonstrating their power at the ballot box to push for a different future

  • Geoff Dembicki is the author of Are We Screwed? How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change

If progressives can’t take back control of the White House and Congress from climate change deniers in the next three years, it’s conceivable that humankind could be screwed. But evidence is mounting that a new political force is up to the task. It has millions of potential supporters across the US, the UK and Canada. It’s openly critical of capitalism. And it’s led by millennials such as Moumita Ahmed.

The 25-year-old activist is intimately aware of what’s at stake. She grew up in Queens, New York, and rose to prominence during the 2016 Democratic primaries as co-founder of a group now known as Millennials for Revolution.

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Forget ‘the environment’: we need new words to convey life’s wonders | George Monbiot

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 05:00:00 GMT2017-08-09T05:00:00Z

Language is crucial to how we perceive the natural world. Help me to find better ways of describing nature and our relationships with it so we can better defend it

If Moses had promised the Israelites a land flowing with mammary secretions and insect vomit, would they have followed him into Canaan? Though this means milk and honey, I doubt it would have inspired them.

Related: The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

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Some still attack Darwin and evolution. How can science fight back? | Jules Howard

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 11:47:59 GMT2017-08-08T11:47:59Z

AN Wilson’s ‘exposé’ is the latest in a long line of attempts to undermine evolutionary biology. Now scientists must decide how best to counter them

I can save you the effort of reading AN Wilson’s “exposé” on Darwin, which did the rounds over the weekend, characterising the famous scientist as a fraud, a thief, a liar, a racist and a rouser of nazism. Instead, head over to Netflix and watch the creationist made-for-TV movie A Matter of Faith, which covers many of the same arguments – and also includes a final scene in which a fictional evolutionary biologist, standing alone in his study, holds a rubber chicken in his hands and finds himself deliberating over the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. At least that was an original take on these tiresome accusations.

Related: Turkish schools to stop teaching evolution, official says

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Spectacular Saturn: Cassini's epic pictures using a one megapixel camera

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 18:00:20 GMT2017-08-13T18:00:20Z

During its 20-year mission to Saturn, Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has captured some breathtaking images of the ringed planet and its moons, revealing many unexpected secrets. Here are some of the best

Read our photo essay – Space whisperers: the Aussies guiding Cassini’s suicide mission to Saturn

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Perseid meteor shower lights up the night sky – in pictures

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 11:47:52 GMT2017-08-13T11:47:52Z

Views from UK, Macedonia, Spain and Turkey of the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs every year when the Earth travels through debris shed by comet Swift-Tuttle

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The sturgeon full moon in partial eclipse - in pictures

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 09:52:50 GMT2017-08-08T09:52:50Z

August’s full moon, known as the sturgeon moon, featured a partial eclipse as it was slightly covered by the Earth’s shadow

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Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 shortlist - in pictures

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 06:00:33 GMT2017-07-26T06:00:33Z

The Milky Way, the Northern Lights and hurtling asteroids feature in the shortlist for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year award. The winners will be announced on 14 September, and an exhibition of the winning images will be displayed in a free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Centre from 16 September

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‘Burrito of awesomeness’: astronaut’s stunning aurora timelapse - video

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:04:28 GMT2017-07-25T10:04:28Z

Taken 250 miles (402 km) above Earth and at a speed of 17,500 mph (28,164 km/h), this stunning timelapse video of the aurora borealis was tweeted by Nasa astronaut Jack Fischer from the International Space Station. Fischer shared his enthusiasm online: ‘People have asked me what a “burrito of awesomeness smothered in awesome sauce” is … Well folks, it looks like this … awesome sauce is green.’ Aurora borealis is the result of collisions between the Earth’s gaseous particles and matter released by the sun’s atmosphere

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The great red spot of Jupiter as never seen before – in pictures

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 04:32:42 GMT2017-07-13T04:32:42Z

Nasa’s Juno mission has captured stunning images of Jupiter’s great red spot in its first up-close flyby of the huge storm. The raw data has been released to the public, allowing for the never-before-seen images to be creatively brought to life

• See the JunoCam website for more processed images

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Mike Pence: Trump will put ‘American boots on the face of Mars’ – video

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 14:39:23 GMT2017-07-08T14:39:23Z

During a visit to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida the US vice-president, Mike Pence, says President Trump will return Americans to the moon and put a human presence on the face of Mars, branding space the ‘next great American frontier’. Pence says that frontier will be settled by Americans in order to protect the country’s security

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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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Solar eclipse blocks sun in Australia – video

Wed, 14 Nov 2012 09:04:00 GMT2012-11-14T09:04:00Z

Tens of thousands of people, including scientists, tourists and amateur astronomers, gather in the north of the Australian state of Queensland to witness a total eclipse of the sun. The sun, moon and Earth aligned and plunged tropical northern Australia into darkness just after dawn on Wednesday Continue reading...In this photo provided by Tourism Queensland, the moment of a total solar eclipse is observed at Cape Tribulation in Queensland state, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia's Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific, where no islands are in its direct path. (AP Photo/Tourism Queensland) EDITORIAL USE ONLY Photograph: APIn this photo provided by Tourism Queensland, the moment of a total solar eclipse is observed at Cape Tribulation in Queensland state, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia's Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific, where no islands are in its direct path. (AP Photo/Tourism Queensland) EDITORIAL USE ONLY Photograph: AP

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How to see the total solar eclipse across America

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-08-09T11:00:06Z

Want to see the total eclipse on 21 August but overwhelmed by advice? Here’s all you need to know

The American solar eclipse is less than a fortnight away. It will be visible across the United States during the morning and early afternoon of Monday 21 August.

If you’ve never seen a total eclipse of the sun, the chances are that you are going to turn to the internet for some tips on how to make the most of the opportunity. And you are going to find so much advice that – however well meaning – it is going to set your head spinning.

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Mother preferred Dr over Miss or Mrs | Brief letters

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:17:26 GMT2017-08-17T18:17:26Z

Academic titles | Margarets as a dying breed | Big Ben | Girls’ and boys’ clothes | Dogs on escalators

Alison Hackett (Letters, 17 August) complains at the use of “Dr” and “Prof” titles. But they can prove useful. Our mother Anne McLaren (a single parent, and a biologist who, working with mice, created the world’s first IVF birth, and became the first woman officer of the Royal Society in their 300-year history, as foreign secretary and vice-president), was asked, “Is it ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’?”. We three kids watched and wondered how she would respond. “No,” she said firmly, “It’s ‘Dr’.”
Prof Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College, Oxford

• If the editor wants to fill the letters page with letters from Margarets (Letters, 17 August), she should act soon, as peak Margaret was in 1900 when it was third most popular name for baby girls. When I had come on the scene in the late 1930s it was eighth, and by the time politics became aware of Maggie Thatcher it lingered at 95th. We are a dying breed.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife

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The 20 big questions in science

Sat, 31 Aug 2013 23:05:00 GMT2013-08-31T23:05:00Z

From the nature of the universe (that's if there is only one) to the purpose of dreams, there are lots of things we still don't know – but we might do soon. A new book seeks some answers

Astronomers face an embarrassing conundrum: they don't know what 95% of the universe is made of. Atoms, which form everything we see around us, only account for a measly 5%. Over the past 80 years it has become clear that the substantial remainder is comprised of two shadowy entities – dark matter and dark energy. The former, first discovered in 1933, acts as an invisible glue, binding galaxies and galaxy clusters together. Unveiled in 1998, the latter is pushing the universe's expansion to ever greater speeds. Astronomers are closing in on the true identities of these unseen interlopers.

Continue reading...What's at the bottom of a black hole? See question 17. Photograph: AlamyWhat's at the bottom of a black hole? See question 17. Photograph: Alamy

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Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes

Fri, 21 Aug 2015 17:40:58 GMT2015-08-21T17:40:58Z

New finding is clear example in humans of the theory of epigenetic inheritance: the idea that environmental factors can affect the genes of your children

Genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations.

The conclusion from a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital led by Rachel Yehuda stems from the genetic study of 32 Jewish men and women who had either been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or experienced torture or who had had to hide during the second world war.

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Total solar eclipse passes over Pacific – timelapse video

Wed, 09 Mar 2016 04:39:44 GMT2016-03-09T04:39:44Z

Timelapse footage sped up 3,000% shows the moon slowly blocking the sun, reaching a total solar eclipse. The eclipse swept its way across Sumatra, Indonesia and then Hawaii over the course of about three hours. A solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon – when the dark side of the moon is facing the Earth

Continue reading...140x84 trailpic for time-lapse footage show the total solar eclipse pass over the Pacific140x84 trailpic for time-lapse footage show the total solar eclipse pass over the Pacific

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Why Roman concrete still stands strong while modern version decays

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 05:00:32 GMT2017-07-04T05:00:32Z

Scientists have cracked the secret to Roman water-based structures’ strength – and findings could help today’s builders

Their structures are still standing more than 1,500 years after the last centurion snuffed it: now the Romans’ secret of durable marine concrete has finally been cracked.

The Roman recipe – a mix of volcanic ash, lime (calcium oxide), seawater and lumps of volcanic rock – held together piers, breakwaters and harbours. Moreover, in contrast to modern materials, the ancient water-based structures became stronger over time.

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Paintings reveal early signs of cognitive decline, claims study

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 05:00:55 GMT2016-12-29T05:00:55Z

Psychologists believe they can identify progressive changes in work of artists who went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease

The first subtle hints of cognitive decline may reveal themselves in an artist’s brush strokes many years before dementia is diagnosed, researchers believe.

The controversial claim is made by psychologists who studied renowned artists, from the founder of French impressionism, Claude Monet, to the abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning.

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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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First time in 99 years: US total solar eclipse on 21 August excites scientists

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 02:39:24 GMT2017-08-06T02:39:24Z

Entire US will fall into shadow as eclipse passes, with darkest path, or ‘totality’, contained in 70-mile (113km) ribbon from Oregon to South Carolina

The sun, moon and Earth will line up perfectly in the cosmos on 21 August, turning day into night for a few wondrous minutes, its path crossing the US from sea to shining sea for the first time in nearly a century.

Never will a total solar eclipse be so heavily viewed and studied or celebrated.
“We’re going to be looking at this event with unprecedented eyes,” promises Alex Young, a solar physicist who is coordinating Nasa’s education and public outreach.

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