22 Nov 2014

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Ancient Egyptian Handbook of Spells Deciphered

Researchers have deciphered an ancient Egyptian handbook, revealing a series of invocations and spells. "It is a complete 20-page parchment codex, containing the handbook of a ritual practitioner," write Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, who are professors in Australia at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney, respectively, in their book, "A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power" (Brepols, 2014).

22 Nov 2014 6:40pm GMT

Ship Traffic Increases Dramatically, to Oceans' Detriment

Ship Traffic Increases Dramatically, to Oceans' DetrimentThe demand for global trade is driving huge growth in ship traffic in the world's oceans, with four times as many ships at sea now than in 1992, a new study reports. The study also found evidence of illegal fishing in protected marine areas, such as ships plying waters around the Kerguelen Islands Marine Reserve in the Southern Indian Ocean, said study author Jean Tournadre, an oceanographer at IFREMER, the French Institute for Marine Research in Plouzane. "I was surprised to see that in 20 years, the growth is almost fourfold, or almost four times larger," Tournadre said. The biggest increase in ship traffic between 1992 and 2012 was along popular shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the Chinese seas.

22 Nov 2014 6:38pm GMT

Marijuana Use Linked to Changes in the Brain

Using marijuana daily for four years or longer may be related to certain changes in the brain, according to new research. The investigators found that the people who had been smoking marijuana daily for at least four years had a smaller volume of gray matter in a region called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is commonly associated with addiction. "We found that there … not only is a change in structure, but there also tends to be a change reflected in the connectivity," said study author Francesca Filbey, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. The lost brain volume could explain the increased connectivity found in marijuana users' brains, Filbey told Live Science.

22 Nov 2014 6:20pm GMT

Gemini Spacecraft Lands at Auction, Escapes Parking Ticket

Gemini Spacecraft Lands at Auction, Escapes Parking TicketThe 9.5-foot-tall (3-meter) Gemini spacecraft, which was part of RR Auction's week-long space sale that ended on Thursday (Nov. 20), narrowly escaped officers giving it a ticket when it was parked in a loading zone outside the Boston auction house's salesroom on Sunday. "I had to talk my way out of a parking ticket!" wrote Bobby Livingston, RR Auction's executive vice president, in an e-mail to collectSPACE.com. Parking citations aside, the two-ton artifact is an example of a "boilerplate" - metal, none-functioning capsules built to the same size and shape as the spacecraft they were designed to test. According to Livingston, this particular Gemini boilerplate was originally used for tests supporting the recovery of the Gemini capsules after they returned from orbit to a splash down in the ocean.

22 Nov 2014 2:51pm GMT

21 Nov 2014

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Planet Hunting to Sky Surveys, Astronomy and Statistics Realign (Op-Ed)

Planet Hunting to Sky Surveys, Astronomy and Statistics Realign (Op-Ed)G. Jogesh Babu is director of the Center for Astrostatistics at Penn State, and Eric Feigelson is the center's associate director and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. After a century hiatus, astronomy and statistics recently reconnected, giving rise to the new field of astrostatistics. NASA's Kepler mission has detected several thousand planets orbiting other stars, but it was through statistics that astronomers inferred that most stars have planetary systems and hundreds of millions of Earth-like planets probably exist in the galaxy. Such insights followed a long gap in the relationship between astrostatistics - a term coined by us in our book of the same title published in 1996 - and the broader field of astronomy.

21 Nov 2014 9:07pm GMT

Banking culture breeds dishonesty, scientific study finds

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - - A banking culture that implicitly puts financial gain above all else fuels greed and dishonesty and makes bankers more likely to cheat, according to the findings of a scientific study. Researchers in Switzerland studied bank workers and other professionals in experiments in which they won more money if they cheated, and found that bankers were more dishonest when they were made particularly aware of their professional role. ...

21 Nov 2014 4:20pm GMT

Small Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global Warming

Small Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global WarmingSmall volcanic eruptions account for part of the global warming slowdown since 2000, a new study suggests. Until now, the climate impacts of small volcanic blasts were overlooked because their planet-cooling particles cluster below the reach of satellites, scientists reported Oct. 31 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The stratosphere is the second layer of Earth's atmosphere, above the one in which humans live (the troposphere). Closer to the polar regions, the boundary drops to about 6 miles (10 km), said lead study author David Ridley, an atmospheric scientist at MIT.

21 Nov 2014 1:24pm GMT

'Star-gazing' shrimp discovered in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A tiny shrimp equipped with large, candy-striped eyes to ward off predators has been discovered in South African waters, the University of Cape Town said on Friday. The 10-15 mm-long crustacean has been christened the "star-gazer mysid" as its eyes seem to gaze permanently upwards. Similar to insects' eyes, they each look in a different direction. "The vivid ringed patterns are thought to be there to make the eyes appear to belong to a much bigger creature, and hence to scare off predators," the university said. ...

21 Nov 2014 1:00pm GMT

20 Nov 2014

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Want to live on the 'roof of the world'? Grow barley

Handout photo of a modern-day barley harvest in QinghaiBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Tibetan Plateau, the harsh Asian domain known as the 'roof of the world,' would not seem an ideal place for people to call home thanks to its extreme altitude, frigid temperatures, relentless winds and low-oxygen conditions. When people did succeed in colonizing this remote land, it was only after they discovered how to feed themselves year-round with cold-hardy crops like barley brought to the region from far away, scientists said on Thursday. ...

20 Nov 2014 9:08pm GMT

HIV drugs show promise in treating common eye disease

Handout picture shows Retinal pigment epithelium treated with an HIV/AIDS drugBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A class of drugs used for three decades by people infected with the virus that causes AIDS may be effective in treating a leading cause of blindness among the elderly. HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), including AZT and three others, blocked age-related macular degeneration in mice and worked well in experiments involving human retinal cells in the laboratory, researchers said on Thursday. In HIV-infected people, NRTIs block an enzyme the virus uses to create more copies of itself. ...

20 Nov 2014 7:08pm GMT

Obama plugs science, math education at ceremony

President Barack Obama holds up a compact flash memory card as an example of technology innovations during his remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, before awarding the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation. The awards are the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said Thursday that 19 scientists, researchers and innovators who received the country's highest honor for their life-changing work embody the spirit of the nation and its "sense that we push against limits and that we're not afraid to ask questions."

20 Nov 2014 6:55pm GMT

Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum Physics

Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum PhysicsThe idea that an infinite number of parallel worlds could exist alongside our own is hard to wrap the mind around, but a version of this so-called Many Worlds theory could provide an answer to the controversial idea of quantum mechanics and its many different interpretations. Bill Poirier, a professor of physics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, proposed a theory that not only assumes parallel worlds exist, but also says their interaction can explain all the quantum mechanics "weirdness" in the observable universe. Poirier first published the idea four years ago, but other physicists have recently started building on the idea and have demonstrated that it is mathematically possible. Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that describes the rules that govern the universe on the microscopic scale.

20 Nov 2014 2:04pm GMT

19 Nov 2014

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Deregulation at heart of Japan's new robotics revolution

Japan's robot venture company Cyberdyne's Lower Limb Model HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) for welfare use is seen next to a laptop showing HAL monitor, which indicates signals of users including the center point of the balance, shift of the center point of thBy Sophie Knight and Kaori Kaneko TOKYO (Reuters) - Neurosurgeon Tetsuya Goto had just begun testing a robot to perform brain surgery when he discovered Japan was moving to tighten regulations that would shut down his seven-year project. Over the next dozen years he watched in frustration as the da Vinci, a rival endoscopic robot that U.S. regulators had already approved, became a commercial success while his and other Japanese prototypes languished in laboratories. ...

19 Nov 2014 9:20pm GMT

CERN scientists discover 2 new subatomic particles

GENEVA (AP) - Scientists at the world's largest smasher said Wednesday they have discovered two new subatomic particles never seen before that could widen our understanding of the universe.

19 Nov 2014 12:20pm GMT

18 Nov 2014

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Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)

Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)With the goal of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, nonprofit SpaceIL is competing for the Google Lunar XPrize: a modern race to the moon. First, instead of developing a rover to drive 500 m like most other teams, SpaceIL engineers are pursuing a "hop" - using the spacecraft's propulsion system first to land, and second to take off again and land 500 m away. Second, we are using the mission not only to stimulate technological advancement, but also to investigate the lunar magnetic field: To that aim, SpaceIL will be carrying a scientific experiment that will advance humanity's shared understanding of the moon. Although magnetized rocks were discovered decades ago, and astronauts returned some samples to Earth for research, the origin of the magnetic field presents an enigma - and an opportunity.

18 Nov 2014 9:06pm GMT

NASA Pluto Probe to Wake From Hibernation Next Month

NASA Pluto Probe to Wake From Hibernation Next MonthNASA's New Horizons probe is about to wake up from a long slumber and get ready for its highly anticipated Pluto flyby next summer. New Horizons is scheduled to emerge from a 99-day hibernation on Dec. 6, then gear up for a six-month Pluto encounter that peaks with the first-ever close flyby of the mysterious dwarf planet on July 14, 2015. "New Horizons is healthy and cruising quietly through deep space, nearly 3 billion miles [4.8 billion kilometers] from home, but its rest is nearly over," Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, said in a statement. New Horizons launched in January 2006.

18 Nov 2014 4:35pm GMT