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Thu, 25 Apr 2019
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Better Earth

Eye in sky monitors ice cap changes

Scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are flying over the shrinking Arctic ice cap this summer in an effort to determine just how much the melting ice is contributing to the rise of sea level worldwide.

Clock

Head'em Off At the Past: At last, a way to test time travel

THE title of Heinrich Päs's latest paper might not mean much to you. To those who know their theoretical physics, however, "Closed timelike curves in asymmetrically warped brane universes" contains a revelation. It suggests that time machines might be far more common than we ever thought possible.

Comment: Our Expert, Theoretical/Mathematical Physicist, Professor Arkadiusz Jadczyk tells us that this idea may have glimpses of truth, but it ignores the problems in the foundations of the quantum theory. Time loops are possible in many classical models, and there they lead to contradictions. Taking into account quantum theory may save us from these contradictions, but quantum theory is contradictory itself. So, we have one more hypothesis, but no real progress in our understanding how the universe works.


Book

'Pyow hack!' Monkeys can talk to each other using sentences

Making different sentences out of the same words was thought to be a unique feature of human language but scientists have now discovered syntax in monkeys.

A study of wild putty-nosed monkeys in Africa has found that they can mix different alarm calls to communicate new meanings to fellow members of a troop.

Chess

Final chromosome in human genome sequenced

Scientists have reached a landmark point in one of the world's most important scientific projects by sequencing the last chromosome in the human genome, the so-called "book of life".

Chromosome 1 contains nearly twice as many genes as the average chromosome and makes up eight percent of the human genetic code.

It is packed with 3,141 genes and linked to 350 illnesses including cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Extinguisher

Smokeless rockets launching soon?

Only time and money separate the current state of rocket propulsion science from the engine rooms of Star Trek's Starfleet, according to a university professor.

James Woodward, a history professor at California State University in Fullerton, presented his research into Mach-Lorentz thrusters Wednesday at the Future in Review conference here. Mach-Lorentz thrusters (MLTs), assuming they can be scaled up from lab tests, could provide a new source of propulsion that "puts out thrust without blowing stuff out the tailpipe," Woodward said.

Comment: See our podcast with Jean-Pierre Petit on magnetohydrodynamic propulsion.


Info

Monkeys And Humans Are Both Irrational

A group of Yale researchers studying the origin of irrational decision-making found that choosing impractically isn't a behavior exhibited only by humans. Our evolutionary cousins, capuchin monkeys, exhibit the same tendency with respect to loss aversion, or the tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses rather than acquiring gains.

The findings, published in the Journal of Political Economy, indicate these biases are innate in primates and have existed since before capuchins and humans split 40 million years ago.

Magnet

Brain Scans Get at Roots of Prejudice

The human brain may have a built-in mechanism for keeping racially or politically distinct groups apart, a new Harvard study suggests.

U.S. researchers observed the brain activity of liberal college students who were asked to think about Christian conservatives. As they did so, a brain region strongly linked to the self and to empathy with others nearly shut down, while another center -- perhaps linked to stereotypic thoughts -- swung into high gear.

People

Early humans, chimps were kissing cousins, gene study suggests

Early human ancestors interbred with chimpanzees after the two species split, researchers propose.

The break from our chimpanzee cousins was messier, more recent, and occurred over a longer timescale than thought, according to a new genetic analysis.

"The genome analysis revealed big surprises, with major implications for human evolution," said study co-author Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cow Skull

Tattooed mummy discovered in Peru

A tattooed mummy has been found in Peru which archaeologists say is one of the best-ever relics of a civilisation that ended more than 1,300 years ago.

The mummy, herself 1,500 years old, is of a woman in her late 20s believed to be an elite member of the Moche tribe.

Cow Skull

Neanderthal yields nuclear DNA

The first sequences of nuclear DNA to be taken from a Neanderthal have been reported at a US science meeting.

Geneticist Svante Paabo and his team say they isolated the long segments of genetic material from a 45,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil from Croatia.

The work should reveal how closely related the Neanderthal species was to modern humans, Homo sapiens.