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First images from Cassini’s final dives over Saturn’s north pole

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:40:14 +0000

The Cassini orbiter's penultimate mission around Saturn begins with a swoop over the planet's northern hemisphere - and gorgeous photos of the churning storm there



Skull casket holding human bones reveals weird burial rituals

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:55:02 +0000

The first Brazilians seem to have been surprisingly sophisticated in how they buried their dead some 9600 years ago



Need your roof repaired? There’s a space-based app for that

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:44:42 +0000

It’s like Uber for roofing: companies use Google Earth images to estimate how much repairs should cost and connect customers to competitive contractors



Fake news shapes our opinions even when we know it’s not true

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:16:04 +0000

You might think you’re immune to post-fact politics and fake news, but you’re more susceptible than you think – especially if you hear something more than once



X-rays show how gas ‘pillows’ make lithium-ion batteries explode

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:12:17 +0000

A build-up of gas between spiral layers of electrodes can make batteries “pillow” and even explode. X-rays reveal what’s happening inside when this occurs



Our brains record and remember things in exactly the same way

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:00:30 +0000

You might think your memories are special, but you’re wrong. A study of people watching Sherlock has shown how similar our memories are for the first time



Bees of the sea: Tiny crustaceans pollinate underwater plants

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:06:47 +0000

Seagrass pollen doesn’t just ride the tides - the grains of at least one species hitchhike on undersea invertebrates  



Europe’s green energy policy is a disaster for the environment

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:25:25 +0000

The EU's massive renewable energy drive is backfiring and its proposed solutions are just greenwashing, say campaigners



Robotic hand exoskeleton lets quadriplegic people use cutlery

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:00:50 +0000

A surgery-free system turns brain signals into movement to let people with paralysis eat with a knife and fork or sign their name



Cosmic dust grains found on city rooftops for the first time

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:07:05 +0000

Sifting through muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin yielded 500 tiny particles from the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago



Whales talk to each other by slapping out messages on water

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:06:53 +0000

Humpback whales break the surface and splash down to make a long-distance call, while fin-slapping is for local conversations



Breakthrough Prize hands out $25 million for ‘Oscars’ of science

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 01:00:58 +0000

The prize, founded and funded by Silicon Valley billionaires, aims to ape the film industry and make scientists into celebrities with a televised ceremony



How much do you know about alcohol?

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 11:25:24 +0000

How much do you know about alcohol limits, how long it takes to break down your beers, and when people drink most? Identify the science in your bar-room banter



Quantum solar cells could explain why plants are green

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 11:05:21 +0000

An attempt to make more efficient solar cells shows that green light might be the least useful hue – maybe that's why plants reflect it



Lazy coders are training artificial intelligences to be sexist

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:44:40 +0000

Machines are only a reflection of culture – and a mix of linguistics and laziness encourages them to pick up our prejudices



The campaign against alcohol abuse deserves two cheers

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

After years of public health messaging alcohol consumption is falling – now we need a sober assessment of how much further to push it



Virgin Galactic takes first solo glide flight since 2014 crash

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:21:58 +0000

The commercial space flight company sent its space plane, VSS Unity, for its first untethered test flight in two years, a step towards space tourism



Are caesareans really making us evolve to have bigger babies?

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:00:09 +0000

C-sections mean that babies whose heads are too big or whose mothers’ pelvises are too narrow, are able to survive – a fact that might be changing our species



Ancient leftovers show the real Paleo diet was a veggie feast

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:00:13 +0000

Early humans seem to have eaten a wide variety of vegetables and nuts, alongside delicacies such as elephant brain and fish



Spikes in search engine data predict when drugs will be recalled

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:30:06 +0000

An algorithm can predict drug recalls on the basis of internet searches made using Microsoft’s Bing, and might help identify faulty batches



North Dakota oil pipeline may still be built despite army block

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:06:47 +0000

Indigenous people and environmentalists have won the latest battle in a long stand-off with companies over an oil pipeline going under a lake and through sacred sites



Why baby flatfish grow into the wonkiest animals in the world

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:01:55 +0000

These fish have a travelling eye and swim on their sides in what is the most extreme example of vertebrate asymmetry – now we know how they develop this useful trait



In Castro’s Cuba, this is what life as a doctor was really like

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:44:10 +0000

Amid Fidel Castro's funeral and furious debate over his legacy, Cuba's health system is often praised. Despite its flaws, it deserves it, says Rich Warner



Magic mushroom drug helps people with cancer face death

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 05:00:18 +0000

A single dose of the psychedelic drug psilocybin can relieve feelings of depression and anxiety in people with cancer and increase their quality of life



Zap to the brain alters libido in unique sex study

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:00:31 +0000

Analysing how people’s brainwaves changed when expecting an erotic buzz to their genitals indicates that brain stimulation can boost sex drive



ESA approves 2020 ExoMars rover despite crash earlier this year

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:57:02 +0000

Putting aside the dramatic loss of the Schiaparelli lander in October and concerns about cost, ESA member states voted to go ahead with the next part of the life-hunting ExoMars mission



Google Translate AI invents its own language to translate with

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:31:35 +0000

The translation tool is thought to have made up its own language to find common ground for translating between language pairs it isn’t trained on



Weeping rock mystery down to microbe builders and barnacle chefs

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:04:22 +0000

It's a first: barnacles provide food for the bacteria, which in turn dig out shelters for the barnacles, creating curious tear shapes on Australian rocks



Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut and travel to the brain

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

It seems the nerve damage behind Parkinson's starts in the stomach or colon before spreading to brain cells - but we don't know what's causing it



Concerns as face recognition tech used to ‘identify’ criminals

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:47:57 +0000

A computer that gauges if someone has a conviction based on their photo has aroused much scepticism, but it's a reminder of the ethical dilemmas of smart tech



Stop buying organic food if you really want to save the planet

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

With global emissions from farming rising fast, we have to find a way for us consumers to make informed, rational choices about the food we eat



Buzz Aldrin evacuated from South Pole after falling ill

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:00:52 +0000

The former astronaut was visiting Antarctica as part of a tour group when his health deteriorated



Moral consensus: a CEO should earn five times what workers get

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:37:13 +0000

In many nations there is a universal desire for a narrower pay gap between executives and workers. No wonder the reality is so toxic, says Michael Norton



Seismic sensing app detects 200 earthquakes in first six months

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:09:12 +0000

Earthquake detecting app MyShake turns smartphones into an earthquake sensor network. Its creators hope it will be able to give warnings of seismic events



World’s highest plants discovered growing 6km above sea level

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:27:01 +0000

Coin-sized pioneers are the highest vascular plants ever found, living at more than 6100 metres above sea level on India’s dizzying Himalayan peaks



Dragon lizards fly by grabbing their fold-up wings with ‘hands’

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:04:12 +0000

The unique way of gliding may allow the lizards to steer using their front legs, which seem to have adapted to rotate and grab the extendable wings



World’s first city to power its water needs with sewage energy

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:00:43 +0000

The city of Aarhus will supply fresh water using only energy created from its household wastewater and sewage - but will others be able to do the same?



LIGO turns back on to hunt for more gravitational waves

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 20:16:58 +0000

The premier gravitational wave observatory just turned back on for another six months - and it's expected to catch twice as many black holes as last time



Early hominin Lucy had powerful arms from years of tree-climbing

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:00:39 +0000

Evolving to walk on the ground didn't stop our famous ancestor and others of her species spending a lot of their time up trees



Quantum particles seen distorting light from a neutron star

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:10:28 +0000

Astronomers have at last observed polarisation of light by virtual particles in a neutron star's magnetic field, a long-expected quantum effect



The plan to ban fishing in more than half the world’s oceans

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

A handful of countries are putting fish stocks at risk by exploiting the riches of the high seas, but conservationists are working on a scheme to stop them



Is Uber a taxi firm or digital service? European court decides

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Europe’s top court will consider whether Uber should be regulated like a transport company, in a case that will inform how ‘gig economy’ firms can operate



UK’s first three-parent babies likely to be conceived in 2017

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:00:54 +0000

The approach might not always work but it should be safer than existing methods for preventing harmful and sometimes fatal mitochondrial diseases



Polar species spotted in the deep seas of the Mediterranean

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:57:15 +0000

A host of invasive species, including some polar species, have been spotted in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Lebanon, some of them wreaking havoc



Jeremy Hunt’s magical plan to block sexting is no help for teens

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:10:56 +0000

Like most visions of technology as a magic wand, UK health secretary Hunt's proposals sound easy but offer as many problems as solutions



India’s grand plan to create world’s longest river set to go

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 15:37:03 +0000

A highly ambitious and controversial project to link up the nation's rivers in a single inter-connected system is ready to start, even as environmental concerns are mounting



Brexit puts Europe’s nuclear fusion future in doubt

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:35:50 +0000

Leaving the EU might also mean exiting Euratom, the international framework for safe nuclear energy, jeopardising the future of the world's largest fusion reactor



Quitting smoking in your 60s can still boost life expectancy

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 05:00:47 +0000

A new study suggests that it is never too late to stop smoking - and the earlier you give up, the longer you are likely to live



Incredible physics behind the deadly 1919 Boston Molasses Flood

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 17:35:47 +0000

The molasses flood toppled buildings and killed 21 people. Now physics is giving fresh clues as to how the sticky-sweet tsunami happened



Private moon mission plans to revisit Apollo 17 landing site

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:00:27 +0000

A team competing in the Google Lunar X Prize says it will send two rovers to the site of the final Apollo mission and study the buggy astronauts left behind



Africa’s tallest tree measuring 81m found on Mount Kilimanjaro

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 16:23:54 +0000

Mount Kilimanjaro is home to centuries-old giant trees around 30 storeys tall – a finding that may help protect the area from logging



Proxima Centauri really does orbit its two bright neighbours

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 18:13:37 +0000

After a century of speculation, we now know the little planet-bearing star revolves around Alpha Centauri A and B every 550,000 years



Bad memories stick around if you sleep on them

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:00:05 +0000

Students shown disturbing images found it hardest to suppress memories of them after a kip, hinting that sleep deprivation could help after traumatic events



New Zealand is the first country to wipe out invasive butterfly

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:53:36 +0000

The great white butterfly is an invasive species whose caterpillars devour both crops and native plant species.  Now the country has fully eliminated it



Can nation states hit back at cyberattackers with ease? No way

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:13:58 +0000

Governments need to stop claiming they can strike back at criminal gangs and state-backed hackers with pinpoint accuracy, says Paul Marks



Finland set to become first country to ban coal use for energy

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 15:31:35 +0000

Tomorrow, the nation is expected to announce a move to phase out coal and switch to renewable energy, becoming the first to outlaw the fossil fuel



Deepest water found 1000km down, a third of way to Earth’s core

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Water identified far below the surface suggests Earth may contain many oceans’-worth of hidden water throughout the mantle



We may be able to tap into our memories from infancy

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 18:27:27 +0000

Studies in rats suggest that our earliest memories may lie dormant in the brain, ready to resurface given the right triggers



AI learns to predict the future by watching 2 million videos

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

A deep learning system generates the next few frames of a story based on just one image, helping it to predict the future and understand the present



Build green highways for bees to help save vital pollinators

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:01:14 +0000

Habitat loss, farming and climate change are behind the loss of wild pollinators, which are crucial to three quarters of the world's crops



Moon-dust cake mix shows moon may have had water from the start

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:00:50 +0000

Early moon geology recreated in the lab suggests water was there to begin with, not added later by comets



Rare river dolphins get trapped in fishing nets as waters drop

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 15:21:53 +0000

Draining rivers for irrigation puts the Ganges river dolphin at higher risk of being ensnared by fishing nets



Why diet drinks with aspartame may actually help make you fatter

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 12:59:34 +0000

Experiments in mice suggest that aspartame neutralises a key enzyme, which could be why some people put on weight even when they have sugar-free soft drinks



Truly global internet access will be a double-edged sword

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 10:37:08 +0000

Efforts to beam the internet to all parts of the globe are gathering pace. It could ultimately liberate billions but may bring upheaval too, says Jamais Cascio



Making cells ignore mutations could treat genetic diseases

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 19:59:30 +0000

Diseases like cystic fibrosis and some cancers can be caused by mutations that make very short proteins. Changing how cells read the genetic code could help



New UK surveillance law may see mass data shared with Trump’s US

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:17:17 +0000

UK intelligence services will have new powers to access swathes of our data, which could be shared with the US during a Trump presidency, warns Ray Corrigan



Coconut crab’s bone-crushing grip is 10 times stronger than ours

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 19:00:44 +0000

It’s the largest of all land arthropods and it has the strongest claw of any crustacean on Earth – strong enough to lift a child or break bones



It’s time to relax the rules on growing human embryos in the lab

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Researchers can only study human embryos up to 14 days past fertilisation, but new techniques can go beyond that – a change in the law would benefit all of us



Gravity may have chased light in the early universe

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:12:43 +0000

A new twist on a controversial idea suggests the speed of light varied just after the big bang - and could overturn our standard cosmological wisdom



Language trends run in mysterious 14-year cycles

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 15:20:39 +0000

An analysis of nouns used over 300 years of writing shows their popularity regularly rising and falling, which may hint at a pattern to how language evolves



Speech synthesiser translates mouth movements into robot speech

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 13:52:10 +0000

Vocoders just got a serious upgrade. A new speech synthesiser lets people talk without using their voicebox, and may one day help paralysed people speak



Being popular is good for health – in monkeys, at least

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 19:01:42 +0000

Life at the bottom of the social ladder can be damaging to health – but now a study in rhesus monkeys shows that health can improve in tandem with social standing



Bacteria taught to bond carbon and silicon for the first time

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 19:00:05 +0000

Carbon-silicon compounds are used in products like drugs and semiconductors, but are not found in nature. Now scientists have taught a protein to make them



Zika is no longer an emergency – it’s worse than that, says WHO

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:54:41 +0000

The Zika virus looks like it’s here to stay. It will take years to find out the real risk of the virus and its full effects– and a vaccine is still years away



Brain stimulation guides people through an invisible maze

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 14:29:06 +0000

Completely without seeing it, people successfully navigated a virtual maze guided only by flashes of light in their brain caused by magnetic stimulation



The devoted spider dads who fix up nurseries for their babies

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 11:00:21 +0000

Male spiders from Brazil build dome-shape homes, fix silk nurseries and actively defend their offspring – a unique behaviour among solitary spiders



The shape of post-Brexit science is becoming clearer

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Theresa May has promised to invest an extra £2 billion in British R&D a year by 2020 – but proposals to reform research funding are troubling



Treatment for chronic pain can be lethal, but there is an answer

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Findings that chronic pain affects the brain's wiring should force the medical profession to take complainants seriously



Time to stage trials of engineering the atmosphere to cool Earth

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:04:52 +0000

Tests of controversial geoengineering methods, especially poorly researched options such as radiation management, must begin in earnest, says Matthew Watson



SpaceX wants to launch more satellites than are already in orbit

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Elon Musk’s space firm is seeking permission to launch 4425 satellites into space with the aim of delivering superfast broadband to the masses



Hubble rounds up the first worlds we’ll check for alien life

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 16:44:01 +0000

The space telescope is set to spend hundreds of hours over the next year picking out the perfect planet for its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, to probe in earnest



Window to hell: Io’s strongest volcano changes face as we watch

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 11:00:52 +0000

The innermost moon of Jupiter is in an almost constant state of eruption - and its most persistent volcano, Loki Patera, keeps an unsteady rhythm



Dinosaur-killing asteroid turned planet Earth inside-out

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 19:00:03 +0000

Pulling samples from the Chicxulub crater shows that the impact caused rocks to move like liquid and form pores in which life could flourish



Killer bird flu has spread across Europe – are humans next?

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 17:33:48 +0000

As farmers across Europe fatten up turkeys and geese for Christmas, a hybrid flu strain has killed many wild birds and invaded poultry farms. Could we be next?



AI pilot helps US air force with tactics in simulated operations

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:04:36 +0000

The ALPHA system was designed as a computer opponent in air combat simulations but is now working with pilots and could one day be used to fly real planes



Google’s DeepMind agrees new deal to share NHS patient data

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 15:33:04 +0000

The five-year partnership will see DeepMind develop and deploy its Streams app for hospitals, but concerns remain over the amount of information being shared



GM mosquitoes approved for field trial release in Florida

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 12:12:49 +0000

State officials have approved a controversial plan to fight diseases such as Zika and dengue with genetically engineered insects



Is new talk of interstellar drive too good to be true?

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:48:59 +0000

Speculation about the EM drive, a proposed fuel-free, physics-busting starship engine, is back but is it still strictly for dreamers, wonders Geraint Lewis



A dash of hydrogen and methane could have kept Mars warm

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:34:31 +0000

The Red Planet’s thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide can’t retain enough heat for water to flow on the planet, but new calculations suggest how it was once warmer



Porpoises plan their dives and can set their heart rate to match

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 17:00:24 +0000

The discovery suggests all cetaceans can do this, and provides a new clue to how noise pollution may trigger strandings



Global sea ice has reached a record low – should we be worried?

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:03:42 +0000

A graph showing global sea ice levels hitting unprecedented lows for this time of year has caused a social media storm. Here’s what you need to know



Fijian ants grow their own plant cities and farm tropical fruits

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:00:16 +0000

For the first time, ants have been found farming plants in a mutually dependent relationship. The ants get food and shelter and the plants survive too



Gut tissue wired up with nerves created in lab for first time

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:00:36 +0000

Lab-grown intestinal tissue could reveal the causes of constipation and diarrhoea, and help treat inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease



Unconscious brain training beats phobias without the stress

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:00:13 +0000

Facing your fears can be unpleasant. But there may be a new way to treat phobias – encouraging you to think about scary things without you even realising it



Dutch police use augmented reality to investigate crime scenes

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:36:08 +0000

An AR system streams video from body cameras to experts back in the lab, who can add virtual labels to help guide officers on the ground



Google’s DeepMind AI can lip-read TV shows better than a pro

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 10:32:36 +0000

An artificial intelligence system developed by researchers at DeepMind and the University of Oxford got so good by watching 5000 hours of BBC programmes



Chinese tourist town uses face recognition as an entry pass

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 13:56:11 +0000

A face-recognition system built by Chinese web giant Baidu has started to authenticate visitors’ identities as they enter the Wuzhen tourist attraction



First ever lightning-mapping satellite set for take off

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 19:53:15 +0000

The US's latest weather satellite, due to launch 19 November, will be the first to watch lightning continuously, as well as monitor the sun and space weather



Are the US and China heading for a gene-editing ‘space race’?

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 17:46:48 +0000

News that researchers in China have become the first to trial the CRISPR technique in humans could see the US relax rules to keep up, says Sally Adee



Crowdsourced prime number could help solve a 50-year-old problem

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 16:48:54 +0000

A group of maths enthusiasts pooled their computer power to discover a new prime number, edging closer to a solution to the decades-old Sierpinski problem