Πέμπτη, 26 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

ScienceDaily: Top Science News

Glimpse into the invisible world of electric asteroids

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

Space may appear empty -- a soundless vacuum, but it's not an absolute void. It flows with electric activity that is not visible to our eyes. NASA is developing plans to send humans to an asteroid, and wants to know more about the electrical environment explorers will encounter there.

'Cosmic own goal' another clue in hunt for dark matter

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 05:19 PM PDT

The hunt for dark matter has taken another step forward thanks to new supercomputer simulations showing the evolution of our 'local Universe' from the Big Bang to the present day. Physicists say their simulations could improve understanding of dark matter, a mysterious substance believed to make up 85 per cent of the mass of the Universe.

Ultra-stiff and lightweight: Carbon-fiber epoxy honeycombs mimic material performance of balsa wood

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

For centuries, the fast-growing balsa tree has been prized for its light weight and stiffness relative to density. But balsa wood is expensive and natural variations in the grain can be an impediment to achieving the increasingly precise performance requirements of turbine blades and other sophisticated applications. Materials scientists have now developed cellular composite materials of unprecedented light weight and stiffness.

Neural sweet talk: Taste metaphors emotionally engage the brain

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 11:12 AM PDT

Researchers have found that taste-related metaphors such as 'sweet' actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words such as 'kind' that have the same meaning. If metaphors in general elicit a similar emotional response, that could mean that figurative language presents a 'rhetorical advantage' when communicating with others.

Origin of life: Stanley Miller's forgotten experiments, analyzed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Stanley Miller, the chemist whose landmark experiment published in 1953 showed how some of the molecules of life could have formed on a young Earth, left behind boxes of experimental samples that he never analyzed. The first-ever analysis of some of Miller's old samples has revealed another way that important molecules could have formed on early Earth.

Collaborative learning -- for robots: New algorithm

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Machine learning, in which computers learn new skills by looking for patterns in training data, is the basis of most recent advances in artificial intelligence, from voice-recognition systems to self-parking cars. It's also the technique that autonomous robots typically use to build models of their environments. A new algorithm lets independent agents collectively produce a machine-learning model without aggregating data.

A farewell to arms? Scientists developing a novel technique that could facilitate nuclear disarmament

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:24 AM PDT

A proven system for verifying that apparent nuclear weapons slated to be dismantled contained true warheads could provide a key step toward the further reduction of nuclear arms. The system would achieve this verification while safeguarding classified information that could lead to nuclear proliferation. Scientists are developing the prototype for such a system. Their novel approach, called a "zero-knowledge protocol," would verify the presence of warheads without collecting any classified information at all.

Scientists unearth what may be secret weapon against antibiotic resistance

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat. Seeking an answer to the riddle of resistance in the natural environment is a far more promising approach than trying to discover new antibiotics, a challenge which has perplexed scientists for decades. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since the late 1980s, leaving physicians with very few tools to fight life-threatening infections.

For the next generation: Democracy ensures we don't take it all with us

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Given the chance to vote, people will leave behind a legacy of resources that ensures the survival of the next generation, a series of experiments by psychologists show. However, when people are left to their own devices, the next generation isn't so lucky.

Study links Greenland ice sheet collapse, sea level rise 400,000 years ago

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:19 AM PDT

A new study suggests that a warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold, resulting in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland and raising global sea levels some 4-6 meters.

New device allows brain to bypass spinal cord, move paralyzed limbs

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 10:01 AM PDT

For the first time ever, a paralyzed man can move his fingers and hand with his own thoughts thanks to a new device. A 23-year-old quadriplegic is the first patient to use Neurobridge, an electronic neural bypass for spinal cord injuries that reconnects the brain directly to muscles, allowing voluntary and functional control of a paralyzed limb.

NASA's STEREO maps much larger solar atmosphere than previously observed

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 09:23 AM PDT

Surrounding the sun is a vast atmosphere of solar particles, through which magnetic fields swarm, solar flares erupt, and gigantic columns of material rise, fall and jostle each other around. Now, using NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, scientists have found that this atmosphere, called the corona, is even larger than thought, extending out some 5 million miles above the sun's surface -- the equivalent of 12 solar radii.

Puzzling X-rays point to dark matter

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 08:38 AM PDT

Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalizing clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter. Astronomers believe that dark matter is the dominant type of matter in the Universe -- yet it remains obscure. Now a hint may have been found by studying galaxy clusters, the largest cosmic assemblies of matter bound together by gravity.

Reproduction later in life is a marker for longevity in women

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:17 AM PDT

Women who are able to naturally have children later in life tend to live longer and the genetic variants that allow them to do so might also facilitate exceptionally long life spans, according to a new study.

Curiosity travels through ancient glaciers on Mars

Posted: 25 Jun 2014 07:15 AM PDT

Some 3,500 million years ago, the Martian crater Gale -- through which the NASA rover Curiosity is currently traversing -- was covered with glaciers, mainly over its central mound. Very cold liquid water also flowed through its rivers and lakes on the lower-lying areas, forming landscapes similar to those which can be found in Iceland or Alaska.

Clumped galaxies give General Relativity its toughest test yet

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 06:59 PM PDT

Nearly 100 years since Albert Einstein developed General Relativity, the theory has passed its toughest test yet in explaining the properties of observable Universe.  The most precise measurements to date of the strength of gravitational interactions between distant galaxies show perfect consistency with General Relativity's predictions.

Monarch butterflies employ a magnetic compass during migration

Posted: 24 Jun 2014 02:23 PM PDT

Scientists have identified a new component of the complex navigational system that allows monarch butterflies to transverse the 2,000 miles to their overwintering habitat each year. Monarchs use a light-dependent, inclination magnetic compass to help them orient southward during migration.

Previously 'hidden diversity' of mouth bacteria revealed in study

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 12:47 PM PDT

A new computational method for analyzing bacterial communities has uncovered closely related, previously indistinguishable bacteria living in different parts of the human mouth. The technique provides high taxonomic resolution of bacterial communities and has the capacity to improve the understanding of microbial communities in health and disease.

Robot can be programmed by casually talking to it

Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:18 AM PDT

A professor of computer science is teaching robots to understand instructions in natural language from various speakers, account for missing information, and adapt to the environment at hand.

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