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Mercedes unveils self-driving city bus

© Daimler
Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot.
Autonomy isn't just for cars; Mercedes-Benz has created a self-driving city bus, too.

Mercedes-Benz revealed its latest creation on Monday morning. Called the Future Bus, it's the first city bus that can drive autonomously.

Mercedes did more than just unveil the futuristic vehicle. It also sent it on a 12-mile route through the streets of Amsterdam.

The bus uses Mercedes' latest autonomous driving system called CityPilot. Like HighwayPilot, which allows the company's semi trucks to drive more safely and efficiently down freeways, CityPilot enables buses to drive partially autonomously in specially marked bus lanes up to 43 mph. All of this is achieved with a human driver onboard to monitor for safety.

Comment: First autopilot death: Tesla driver killed in crash with tractor-trailer


Info

Whales mourn their dead, just like humans

© Robin W. Baird
A mother orca carries her dead newborn. Several species of whales show signs of mourning.
Smart and often sociable, whales forge tight bonds with one another. Now it's clear that those bonds can be stronger than death itself.

More than six species of the marine mammals have been seen clinging to the body of a dead compatriot, probably a podmate or relative, scientists say in a new study.

The most likely explanation for the animals' refusal to let go of the corpses: grief.


"They are mourning," says study co-author Melissa Reggente, a biologist at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy. "They are in pain and stressed. They know something is wrong."

Scientists have found a growing number of species, from giraffes to chimps, that behave as if stricken with grief. Elephants, for example, return again and again to the body of a dead companion.

Such findings add to the debate about whether animals feel emotion—and, if they do, how such emotions should influence human treatment of other creatures.


Nebula

Are organisms quantum machines?

© Andrey Volodin/Alamy
If there's any subject that perfectly encapsulates the idea that science is hard to understand, it's quantum physics. Scientists tell us that the miniature denizens of the quantum realm behave in seemingly impossible ways: they can exist in two places at once, or disappear and reappear somewhere else instantly.

The one saving grace is that these truly bizarre quantum behaviours don't seem to have much of an impact on the macroscopic world as we know it, where "classical" physics rules the roost.

Or, at least, that's what scientists thought until a few years ago.

Smiley

Sun makes nervous face with hole in its head [VIDEO]

© NASA/SDO/AIA
The sun seems to be making a nervous face in this image, which was captured on July 14, 2016 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft.
The sun has been making some anxious faces lately — but you'd be worried, too, if a huge hole had just opened up on your head.

The sun's apparent nervousness crops up in photos captured over the past few days by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO); you can see the gorgeous images compiled into a video here.

The sun's "eyes" are actually active regions, which serve as launch pads for solar flares and the eruptions of superheated solar plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). And the anxious, crinkly mouth is a coronal hole, a relatively cool and dark region where the sun's magnetic field lies open to interplanetary space.


Comment: The Sun has been behaving very strangely for a while now:


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Storing data on the atomic scale - Rewritable device built [VIDEO]

Delft University of Technology researchers combined a copper surface with chlorine atoms to build a device with "information density as high as 500 terabits per square inch." Tiny 'Atomic Memory' Device Could Store All Books Ever Written


Comment: See also: World's first 'atomic' movie is stored in vapor


Telescope

Kepler Spacecraft telescope discovers crop of 104 new planets, 4 look promising that could potentially accommodate life

© W. Stenzel / NASA / Reuters
This artist's concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA's Kepler space telescope.
In the race to find somewhere habitable in the cosmos, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has identified 104 new planets outside of our galaxy. Among them were four "promising planets" that could potentially accommodate life.

Scientists say the four planets are in Earth's size-range, orbiting a single dwarf star. NASA said in a statement that two are "too hot to support life as we know, but two are in the star's 'habitable' zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface."

Cell Phone

Neuroscientists find multitasking literally drains brain's energy reserves

© Reuters/ Yuya Shino
Constantly checking your phone is a drain on productivity.
Does your morning routine consist of checking emails, browsing Facebook, downing coffee, heading to the train while Googling one last idea, checking notifications, more coffee, and going through your work email? The myriad activities crammed into your morning, and the constant switching between them, is likely making you very tired.

When we attempt to multitask, we don't actually do more than one activity at once, but quickly switch between them. And this switching is exhausting. It uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, running down the same fuel that's needed to focus on a task.

"That switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing," says Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University. "People eat more, they take more caffeine. Often what you really need in that moment isn't caffeine, but just a break. If you aren't taking regular breaks every couple of hours, your brain won't benefit from that extra cup of coffee."

Studies have found that people who take 15-minute breaks every couple of hours end up being more productive, says Levitin. But these breaks must allow for mind-wandering, whether you're walking, staring out the window, listening to music or reading. "Everyone gets there a different way. But surfing Facebook is not one of them," he says. Social networks just produce more fractured attention, as you flit from one thing to the next.

Black Magic

Man's best friend - reborn: South Korean cloning facility promises to bring back your dead dog


Sooam Biotech Research Foundation has cloned over 800 dogs since 2006, offering the service to bring your dead dog back for $100,000. Apart from their popular dog cloning service, they also clone cattle and pigs for medical research and breed preservation.


GRIEF RELIEF


The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation can reincarnate your dead dog, a service that would delight pet lovers—for $100,000.

"These people have very a strong bond with their pets... and cloning provides a psychological alternative to the traditional method of just letting the pet go and keeping their memory," said Sooam researcher and spokesman Wang Jae-Woong.

Comment: The shady past of wolves in sheep's cloning


Galaxy

World's potentially biggest telescope discovers 13,000 new galaxies at only 25% capacity

© ska.ac.za
South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope has proven its potential, releasing its first images, which reveal some 1,300 galaxies in a far-off corner of the universe where only 70 were known to exist before.

"Based on the results being shown today, we are confident that after all 64 dishes are in place, MeerKAT will be the world's leading telescope of its kind," said Professor Justin Jonas, Chief Technologist at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which manages MeerKAT. SKA is an international effort to build the world's largest and most precise radio telescope.

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Megathrust: Giant Bangladesh earthquake possible putting 140 million lives at risk, says study

© Ashikur Rahman / Reuters
Up to 140 million lives could be at risk from a potentially massive earthquake in Bangladesh, according to a new study. The research found that pressure is building along a fault line situated underneath the most densely-populated nation on Earth.

The research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday, found that a juncture between major tectonic plates in the region is locked and mounting with stress.

Citing data collected using GPS devices since 2003, the paper states that measurements found convergence of tectonic plates at a rate of 13-17mm "on an active, shallowly dipping and locked megathrust fault."

One plate is moving under the other deep beneath the surface, and two plates are stuck together at the upper layers of the fault. The plates are covered in layers of sediment more than 20 meters thick.

The situation could result in a magnitude 8.2 to 9.0 earthquake in Bangladesh.