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"Long before it's in the papers"
July 28, 2014



At least one in 25 death-sentenced people are innocent, study claims
In new work, re­search­ers argue that the false-con­vic­tion rate is not every­where as un­know­able as is some­times said.

Scientists take step toward usable fusion energy
usable fusion energy
Sci­en­tists are clos­er than ever to us­ing the pro­cess that pow­ers the Sun to pro­duce en­er­gy, says a re­port to ap­pear in the re­search jour­nal Na­ture.

An evolutionary role for “Jackass”-like stunts?
Risk-prone people are per­ceived as larg­er and strong­er, new re­search finds.


DNA “markings” may transmit learned experiences
So-called epige­net­ic changes have gar­nered in­creas­ing at­tent­ion as a route by which na­ture trans­mits traits across gen­er­a­tions.

Love your enemy? Hormone spray may help with that, too
Inhaling the hor­mone oxy­to­cin may make peo­ple em­pa­thize more with out­siders, a stu­dy sug­gests.


Scientists probe how Inca kids were drugged for sacrifice
Chil­dren of the an­cient In­ca Em­pire may have con­sumed in­ten­si­fying doses of al­co­hol and co­ca leaf for as long as a year be­fore a ri­tual slaugh­ter.

A reputation sealed? Finding suggests T. rex hunted for real
A toothy dis­cov­ery sug­gests the icon­ic di­no­saur Ty­ran­no­saur­us rex was a real hunt­er af­ter all—not a mere scav­en­ger.


Study explores how power gets to the brain
Pow­er may or may not cor­rupt, but it does change you. New re­search ex­plores what hap­pens in the brain as that takes place.

Studies may have overestimated our generosity
Scientists recre­ated a game of­ten used to as­sess peo­ple’s al­tru­ism—but this time there was a twist, and a darker re­sult.


Already-approved drug tied to longer, healthy lives in mice
The first drug to suc­cess­fully ex­tend the life­span of nor­mal lab mice al­so does so in a way that pro­longs their healthy ex­ist­ence, a stu­dy sug­gests.

Men want status from romantic relationships, research finds
A set of surveys suggests men and women get self-es­teem from rela­t­ion­ships in dif­fer­ent ways.


Killed twice in 1600s, hoax “dragon” slain again—in creationism dispute
Scient­ists say they’ve proven what some suspected three centuries ago: the swamp dra­gon from Rome was a hoax. And maybe now it mat­ters more.

Yes, gentlemen, size matters—but something else matters more, study finds
Scientists as­sessed how pe­nis size, body height and body shape inter­act to in­flu­ence fe­male rank­ings of male al­lure.


Babies may be drawn to those who mistreat the “different”
Re­searchers report new evi­dence that hard-to-eradi­cate bia­ses based on race, sex and other diff­er­ences take root early in life.

Your brain cells may be capable of outliving you—by a lot
New findings make scient­ists hope­ful that if hu­man life­span is increased, brain cells will coop­erate by liv­ing long­er accord­ing­ly.


Chimps found to play fairness game like people
In some im­por­tant ways, chimps may have more hu­man-like con­cepts of fair­ness than pre­vi­ously rec­og­nized, bi­ol­o­gists say.

For signs of life, some strange planetary systems may be most promising
Atmos­pheric chem­icals be­tray­ing the pre­sence of alien life might be de­tect­able around white dwarf stars, a study says.

Did some Neanderthals learn advanced skills from “moderns”?
Sur­pris­ing­ly, some Ne­an­der­thal peo­ple seem to have made body or­na­ments and soph­is­t­icated tools, a study re­ports.

Theory that cooking gave us big brains gains support
New research backs up a the­o­ry that the ad­vent of cook­ing al­most two mill­ion years ago en­abled hu­mans to get smart­er.

Friendliness to minorities may often be a performance—a fragile one
Many whites be­have ex­tra nicely to mi­nor­i­ties, but it’s often an act that ar­ises from a sense of obli­ga­t­ion, new re­search sug­gests.


Gospel of Matthew linked to trail of bizarre self-mutilations
A particu­lar set of verses from a book in the Bi­ble has crea­ted con­stern­ation among some med­i­cal pro­fes­sionals.

“Racial purity” DNA testing slammed as perversion, but halting practice might not be easy
A pol­i­ti­cian has sparked out­rage af­ter re­port­ed­ly tak­ing a DNA test for a shock­ing pur­pose. But just where the red line lies is not wide­ly agreed up­on.

Moral “taint” still seeps along familial lines
We are still blamed to some de­gree for the mis­deeds of our rel­a­tives, ac­cord­ing to a set of newly re­ported sur­veys.

American heads have been changing shape, but why?
White people’s heads in the Unit­ed States have got­ten taller and nar­row­er since the days the steam­ship was king, re­search indi­cates.

Cold case solved? Study probes riddle of sinking beer bubbles
Bub­bles in dark beer are seen to slide down­ward, iron­ic­ally, be­cause they’re trying to head up­ward, a study re­ports.

Move elephants into Australia, scientist proposes
Does the Land Down Under need an in­fu­sion of large mam­mals to solve its ec­o­log­i­cal and wild­fire prob­lems?

Was blackmail essential for marriage to evolve?
A study takes a cold new look at a cus­tom as ancient and firmly estab­lished as it is sa­cred to mil­lions.

A human bias against creativity is hindering science, research claims
Most of us love crea­ti­vi­ty—until it ac­tually comes knock­ing, some psy­cho­lo­gists say.

Pluto has even colder “twin” of similar size, studies find
A “d­warf plan­et” or­bit­ing our sun three times fur­ther away than Plu­to is about the size of that better-known, frig­id world, as­tro­no­mers say.


Could simple anger have taught people to cooperate?
A new study chal­lenges one of the lead­ing the­o­ries as a sol­u­tion for an evo­lu­tion­ary puz­zle.


* * * LATEST * * *

Study: fist-bumping more hygienic than shaking hands
Health care pro­vid­ers might want to switch to the “fist-bump” gest­ure, re­search­ers say.

Four billion-year-old chemistry in cells today?
Some of the chem­i­cal pro­cesses that first gave rise to life may be still at work in liv­ing cells.

Some women really do prefer mean guys, research suggests
What your guy pals told you may be true, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

Don’t tell kids how healthy any food is, study suggests
Ac­cord­ing to a new study, when chil­dren hear about the ben­e­fits of healthy food, they’re less likely to eat it.

Study: We could detect aliens by their pollution
Research suggests we could spot the fin­ger­prints of cer­tain com­mon pol­lu­tants.

Mysterious dance of dwarfs may force cosmic rethink
A find­ing that many small ga­lax­ies don’t “swarm” around larg­er ones like bees but rath­er circle them is cre­at­ing a new co­nun­drum.

Fossil suggests flight was common among bird-like dinosaurs
The ani­mal had an extre­mely long, feath­ered tail that bi­ol­o­gists think was cru­cial for safe land­ings.

Newfound gene could play role in aging from birth
A de­vel­op­mental gene called Sp­ns1 was found to af­fect aging in ex­peri­ments with animals. 

Prehistoric “bookkeeping” continued long after invention of writing
Ar­chae­o­lo­gists in Tur­key have found clay to­kens that served as rec­ords of trade un­til the ad­vent of writ­ing, or so it was thought.

Consciousness research not dead, scientists insist
Why does a re­lent­less stream of ex­pe­ri­ences nor­mally fill your mind?

Mysterious bursts of radio waves identified far outside galaxy
The mys­tery is rem­i­nis­cent of that of gamma-ray bursts, which are now thought to come from stars col­laps­ing to form black holes.

Fossils of tiny, unknown hedgehog found
Scient­ists are in­vest­ig­ating a “lost world” in Can­ada.

Astronomers detect most distant Milky Way stars known
They’re being called ghosts of galaxies past.

Specific brain area may aid stock market success
Re­liance on a brain area called the an­te­ri­or in­su­lar cor­tex may have helped players avoid crashes in a stock market game.

Chimp culture reaches new heights with “grass-in-the-ear” trend
Chim­panzees are cop­y­cats and, in the pro­cess, they form new tra­di­tions that are of­ten spe­cif­ic to just one group.

Study: most people dislike being alone with their thoughts
Many would even rath­er give them­selves elec­tric shocks than just sit qui­et­ly, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

Poor physical, financial health tied to same factors
De­ci­sion to con­trib­ute to a re­tire­ment plan pre­dicts res­ponses to re­sults of a phys­i­cal exam, a stu­dy found.

Caribbean coral reefs disappearing, study says
Glob­al warm­ing alone is­n’t to blame, ac­cord­ing to a new report.

Three black holes found spiraling into each other
As­tro­no­mers are hop­ing si­m­i­lar sys­tems could give off de­tect­a­ble “rip­ples” in space and time.

Three black holes found spiraling into each other
As­tro­no­mers are hop­ing si­m­i­lar sys­tems could give off de­tect­a­ble “rip­ples” in space and time.

Bizarre parasite from Jurassic found
Re­search­ers have dis­cov­ered a fos­sil fly lar­va with a spec­tac­u­lar suck­ing ap­pa­rat­us.

Back away, please: humans fear approaching objects
“Ap­proach avoid­ance” is a gen­er­al, and not en­tire­ly ra­tion­al, ten­den­cy, a study suggests.

NASA sizing up “weird” asteroid candidates for capture
Aster­oids being looked at for a pro­posed NASA mis­sion may have rub­ble-pile like com­pos­itions. 

New method could detect alien life, scientists claim
Scientists say they have de­vel­oped a new mod­el to de­tect methane on plan­ets out­side of our so­lar sys­tem.

New dino species has “winged crest”
Sci­en­tists have named a new spe­cies of horned di­no­saur based on fos­sils col­lect­ed from Mon­tana and Al­ber­ta. 

Anxious children found to have bigger “fear centers” in the brain
Development of the amyg­dala may affect anxiety traits, ac­cord­ing to a stu­dy.

First intact pterosaur eggs found with their parents
The huge fly­ing rep­tiles lived to­geth­er in col­o­nies, ac­cord­ing to re­search­ers.

How group membership can change our moral priorities
When peo­ple get to­geth­er in groups, un­usu­al things can hap­pen.

Does “free will” stem from brain noise?
Our abil­ity to make choic­es—and mis­takes—might arise from ran­dom fluctua­t­ions, a study claims.

Climate engineering can’t stop global warming, scientists warn
Tin­ker­ing with the cli­mate directly won’t help us avoid what’s needed, says a re­port.

Spiders understand “music” of their own web
A spi­der web, plucked like a gui­tar string, pro­vides its in­hab­i­tants with in­forma­t­ion, sci­en­tists have found.

Lasers help recreate supernova explosions in lab
Re­search­ers are using la­sers to rec­re­ate at a small scale what hap­pens when stars explode.

Race against time to save vanishing Da Vinci “self-portrait”
Re­sults could help save oth­er old draw­ings and doc­u­ments, scient­ists say.

Printable robots in development
En­gi­neers are work­ing on ro­bots that can be as­sem­bled from parts made by 3-D print­ers—some could be baked, too.

Toxins in environment might make you older than your years
Why are some 75-year-olds down­right spry while oth­ers can barely get around?

Personal judgments swayed by group opinion for 3 days: study
We all want to feel like free thinkers, but there’s noth­ing like so­cial pres­sure.

Fruit flies found to “think” before acting
The insects take long­er to make hard de­ci­sions, a study noted.

Breaking the rules may be “cool”—or not
A new study looks at which kinds of rule-break­ing can win “cool” points, and which fall flat.

The more men with beards, the less they attract: study
Beards are of­ten said to confer a mas­cu­line or dom­i­nant look, but their role in male at­trac­tiveness is­n’t clear-cut.

Favoritism, not hostility, seen behind much discrimination
Most dis­crimina­t­ion in the U.S. stems from plain fa­vor­it­ism aimed at help­ing peo­ple si­m­i­lar to us, a new re­port claims.

Measurements show Jupiter’s “Red Spot” shrinking fast
The swirl­ing storm, larg­er than Earth, would be gone by about 2030 if shrink­age cont­in­ues as re­cent­ly meas­ured.

Are jellyfish really taking over? Global database to shed light
Wor­ries lurk over wheth­er env­iron­ment­al des­truct­ion is creat­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for “nui­sance” species.

Revenge not satisfying without attitude change, study finds
Re­venge may be a dish best served with a side of change.

Species numbers found stable—but maybe thanks to invaders
Findings raise the pros­pect of a situa­t­ion re­sem­bling a so-called “planet of weeds.”

First realistic universe simulation said to be created
A gi­ant com­pu­ter program mim­ics 13 bil­lion years of cos­mic evo­lu­tion.

Scientists identify Sun’s “long-lost brother,” hope life might turn up
As­tro­no­mers say they’ve found a star al­most cer­tainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star.

Long-snouted T. rex cousin reported found
A newfound fos­sil re­veals a beast that like a cross be­tween T. rex and Don­ald Duck.

Early depression, anger may taint love life for decades
Re­search­ers are try­ing to crack the code to hap­pi­ness by ex­plor­ing the long reach of de­pres­sion and an­ger.

Warming already causing extreme weather, official report says
Climate change is affecting the United States right now in far-reach­ing ways, ac­cord­ing the Na­t­ional Cli­mate As­sess­ment re­port.

Good institutions may prompt “fairer” behavior
Peo­ple are more likely to fa­vor their family and lo­cal com­mun­ity where in­sti­tu­tions are weak, a study found.

For birds, predation linked to faster aging
Findings are said to sup­port an old the­o­ry ex­plain­ing why an­i­mals have such widely var­y­ing life­spans.

Snobby staff may boost luxury sales
When it comes to lux­u­ry brands, the ruder the sales staff the bet­ter the re­tail sales, a study sug­gests.

Weird ocean sound finally explained: a whale
The strange, deep un­der­wa­ter sound was first re­ported by sub­mar­ine sail­ors in the 1960s.

People found to remember atrocities in ways that favor their group
People who learn of atro­cities usually for­get a few de­tails—not quite ran­dom­ly, re­search suggests.

Test could provide “family tree” of a patient’s own tumors
Bio­log­ists hope the gene­tic test could help with treat­ment plan­ning.


First Earth-sized planet in star’s “habitable zone” reported found
In a long-awaited first, as­tro­no­mers re­port finding an Earth-sized plan­et poss­ibly able to sup­port life.

We’re over the hill at 24? So says computer-game study
If you’re over 24 you’ve al­ready peak­ed in terms of speed in ex­e­cut­ing de­ci­sions, a study sug­gests.


Even moderate pot use tied to clear brain changes: study
Even once- or twice-a-week use can lead to ab­norm­a­lities, sci­ent­ists say.

Saturn may be spawning tiny new moon
Astro­nom­ers sus­pect the ob­ject may be going through stages that char­act­erized the birth of other moons, and plan­ets.


Scientists to explore deep ocean trench
What lives in the deep­est part of the ocean? Sci­en­tists plan to use the world’s only full-o­cean-depth un­der­wa­ter ro­bot and oth­er tech­nol­o­gy to find out.

Possible alien moon detected, but never to be seen again
Though un­con­firm­able, the find­ing is seen as a tan­ta­liz­ing first step to­ward find­ing ex­o­moons.

Neanderthals no strangers to good parenting, study says
Ne­an­der­thal par­ents were more at­ten­tive than tra­di­tion­ally sup­posed, a new study ar­gues.

World Science Archive
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This Hub­ble Space Te­le­scope im­age re­leased Dec. 17 shows RS Pup­pis, a type of var­i­a­ble star known as a Ce­phe­id var­i­a­ble. RS Pup­pis varies in bright­ness by al­most five­fold eve­ry 40 days or so. RS Pup­pis is also un­u­su­al in that it's shrouded by thick, dark clouds of dust. This leads to a phe­nom­e­non known as a light echo, in which light re­flect­ing off the clouds takes longer to reach us than light di­rect­ly from the star. The dark back­ground sky in this im­age is pop­u­lated with ga­lax­ies. More infor­m­a­tion on the im­age here. (Cred­it: NA­SA, ESA, & Hub­ble Her­it­age Team (STScI/AURA)-Hub­ble/Europe Col­lab.)

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