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Updated: 53 min 55 sec ago

UN Biodiversity Report Far From Bleak - Encouraging Survey Of Measures To Preserve, Mapping Ways Forward To Meet Challenges

Feb 28 2019 - 15:02

This UN Report is not saying we are going to be unable to feed everyone. But we need to be careful to maintain the biodiversity of the wild relatives of our crops and also of our ecosystems to be most resilient. We don’t risk mass famine, they say that specifically in the interview with the BBC but we need the biodiversity to deal with future issues such as for instance pests and diseases of our crops. On this the situation is rather encouraging, especially if you read the report itself.

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Make Iridescent Color From Clear Drops Using Only Light - No Inks Or Dyes Needed

Feb 28 2019 - 11:02
Even if you are obsessed with "natural" things, the awesome power of physics can still help you make fun colors. It's all thanks to “structural color,” the ability of an object to generate color simply by the way light interacts with its geometric structure.

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The Old, The New And The Uncharged

Feb 27 2019 - 16:02

I often read in the news about the new and exciting things that will be discovered if we invest big $$$ on new tech, such as a new big smasher 100 m below the surface of the Earth. This can of course be true; we have seen miraculous things being discovered in the field of particle physics, mainly due to the fact that a persistent vision by a group of scientists managed to continuously shed light on the harsh road of discovery.

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Internet Of Things Security: Unclonable Digital Fingerprints

Feb 27 2019 - 14:02
At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference last week, Rice University integrated circuit (IC) designers unveiled technology they say is 10 times more reliable than current methods of producing unclonable digital fingerprints for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

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New Office

Feb 27 2019 - 09:02
As the regulars here already know, I am an employee of the INFN. This is the "Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare", which translates as "Italian national institute for nuclear physics", a slight misnomre as the institute actually centers its activities on SUB-nuclear physics - i.e. study of elementary particles. 
The INFN has 20 sections around Italy, and four main laboratories. The "sections" coexist with physics departments of Universities. So, for instance, my office is in the Physics and Astronomy department of the University of Padova, although I work for INFN-Padova. This kind of symbiosis is fruitful as the research activities we are involved in are also of interest of the department of Physics. 

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Amiskwia Sagittiformis: Weird Chimera Worm May Finally Get Its Place In The Tree Of Life

Feb 26 2019 - 09:02
Ribbon worm? Arrow worm? Since the discovery of its fossil over a century ago, paleontologists have speculated about what branch of evolution Amiskwia sagittiformis was on.

Charles Doolittle Walcott, who first described it, compared it to the a group of ocean-dwelling worms that are fierce predators, equipped with an array of spines on their head for grasping small prey - modern arrow worms (chaetognaths), but later scientists could not find evidence of the canonical grasping spines so they believed instead it might be a a ribbon worm, or its own distinct lineage only distantly related to anything that resembles it today.

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Sweet Viceroy Butterflies Turn Sour To Stop Predators

Feb 26 2019 - 08:02
Limenitus archippus, the viceroy butterfly is a mimic, modeling its orange-and-black colors after the queen butterfly, a bug that tastes so disgusting predators have learned not to eat it or anything that looks like it, including viceroys.

The apparent dependence of mimics on their models made biologists wonder if the fates of the two species are forever intertwined. If so, then what happens when the mimic and the model part ways? Thanks to a new study, scientists know. Viceroy butterflies living in northern Florida, far away from the southern-dwelling queen butterflies, are not only more abundant than their southern kin, but they have also developed their own foul flavor.

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More Expensive Milk Won't Help Farmers Enough - Culture Has Changed

Feb 25 2019 - 11:02
I don't drink much milk now, though I did when I was a kid. I think I eat more cheese than I did then, and that makes sense. We were a poor family on a subsistence farm and cheese is expensive. Milk was not. At least if you got it right from the farmer. 

But most of us don't get it right from the farmer, which is one reason why an increase in milk prices in the U.S. won't help dairy farmers much, any more than it will in Australia or any other country. Most people do not buy dairy products from a local farmer, they buy food in stores. And the products in those stores may not even have been made using milk from this country.

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Zebra Stripes And Flies: Evolutionary Psychology Speculation Or Because Stripes Make Terrible Landing Strips?

Feb 22 2019 - 10:02
It is believed by some that zebras have black and white stripes as a defense mechanism against flies. To others, that seems too complex. In an Occam's Razor evolutionary universe it only leads to more speculation - why would they evolve such a sophisticated defense mechanism when it doesn't help, and flies are no less attracted to zebras than they are horses? Are zebras more prone to infectious diseases carried by African biting flies?  Or is the whole premise more like evolutionary psychology than science, where there is speculation neckties evolved so men would look like superior mates?

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Basic Income: How's It Working In Finland?

Feb 21 2019 - 14:02

The preliminary findings from Finland’s basic income experiment are out and they show mixed results. Both advocates and critics of the idea of a universal basic income will find cause for consternation and celebration. Though widely anticipated by basic income enthusiasts, the Finnish experiment will only fuel further debate on whether or not the idea works.

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Kratom Rising: Calls To US Poison Control Centers Increase

Feb 21 2019 - 13:02
The natural opioid kratom, the leaves of a tropical tree in Southeast Asia (Mitragyna speciosa) is a great analgesic because it's an opioid.  It has become popular because supplements are exempt from government oversight unless companies are causing people to fall over, which has happened - they seized 90,000 bottles of it in 2016 and want to ban its importation due to concerns about safety.

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Artificial Sweeteners Are Not Harmful For Gut Microbiota, They Are Even Prebiotics

Feb 21 2019 - 12:02
Food is plentiful and affordable, and that has brought an increase in consumption of foods that matched an ancient evolutionary mandate; sweetness.

In ancient times, humans knew that sweetness meant more calories and in a world where they often weren't sure where the next meal would come from, getting as many calories when they were available was important. When agriculture came into existence, farmers began genetically modifying foods to be bigger and sweeter. Beginning in the late 1980s, science gave us a true food boom, with more food grown on less land with less environmental strain than thought possible when claims of a "population bomb" by authors such as Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren were popular.

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Ashitaba Won't Make You Live Longer, It Won't Even Help You Become A Samurai

Feb 20 2019 - 17:02
The race is on to be the food craze of 2019 and the leading contenders so far are biltong - beef jerky from South Africa - and angelica keiskei koidzumi (ashitaba) from Japan.

If a plant can have a leaf cut off and have it grow back the next day, why not assume eating it will help humans? Because we know more science now than 18th century soldiers did. 

But once a supplement takes off, more studies showing magical benefits will be soon to follow, and Nature Communications is helping get things going - perhaps because the credit card cleared. It certainly can't have gone through real peer review.

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Journalist travel grants for Heidelberg Laureate Forum

Feb 20 2019 - 13:02
From September 22-27, 2019, recipients of the Abel Prize, ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing, Fields Medal, and the Nevanlinna Prize will gather in Heidelberg to meet with 200 young researchers from all over the world at the 7th Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). 

To get mathematicians and computer scientists some more recognition, the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) is giving travel grants for journalists to cover the event. Grants cover travel costs as well as board and accommodation during the stay in Heidelberg from September 21-28, 2019.

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Grasses Have Been Genetically Modifying For Millenia - By Stealing

Feb 20 2019 - 12:02
Grasses have been able to short cut evolution by taking genes from their neighbors, finds a new study.

Since Darwin, much of the theory of evolution has been based on common descent, where natural selection acts on the genes passed from parent to offspring. But sometimes what seems to be natural selection is really artificial, like lateral gene transfer that allows organisms to bypass evolution and skip to the front of the queue by using genes that they acquire from distantly related species. Even by stealing them.

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70 Million Years Ago: Earliest Example Of Nest Sharing Discovered

Feb 20 2019 - 11:02
Fossilized eggshells unearthed in western Romania represent the earliest known nest site shared by multiple animals. The shells – some complete and others broken into thousands of pieces – are densely packed and encased in mudstone which formed part of the remains of a bird breeding colony, probably comprising hundreds of seperate nests. 

Now in the collections of the Transylvanian Museum Society in Cluj Napoca, Romania, the samples date from the late-Cretaceous period (approx. 70 million years ago) and were discovered near the city of Sebeş in Transylvania by local palaeontologist Mátyás Vremir about nine years ago.

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Clark Kent Was Right: Subtle Disguises Are Effective

Feb 20 2019 - 10:02
In the comics and films, Clark Kent wore reading glasses while Superman had no glasses but sported a lock of hair on his forehead - and no one figured it out. Ridiculous, it was later said.

Perhaps it was ridiculous if keen reporters who knew Kent well did not figure it out, but for the most part even subtle disguises work well for most people, according to a new study. Something as minor as complexion changes or a hairstyle are enough to convince people that in a world of six billion people, a one in a million chance of seeing a person who looks like someone you know is not that bad.

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Single Top Production Nailed By LHC Experiments

Feb 20 2019 - 08:02
The ATLAS and CMS collaborations released yesterday a joint document where they discuss the combination of their measurements of the rate of production of single top quarks in proton-proton collisions delivered by the LHC collider. The exercise is not an idle one, as the physics behind the production processes is interesting, and its study as well as the precise comparison of experimental results and theory predictions improves our ability to predict other reactions, wherein we might find deviations from the currently accepted theory, the Standard Model.

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Ants, Twinkies, Cockroaches; What Could Really Survive A Nuclear Apocalypse?

Feb 20 2019 - 08:02
Cockroaches have a reputation for resilience, likely contributing to the belief that they could even survive a nuclear bomb and subsequent radiation exposure.

And though Fukushima was not a nuclear bomb, or even a real disaster (more people died trying to escape than from radiation), the claim that cockroaches were found led weight to their constitutions.(a) But is it really accurate? In the future, if a disgraced doctor finds Alita: Battle Angel in a junk pile, will she be with a cockroach? 

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Dear Believers In Vampires And Integrative Medicine - Plasma From Young Donors Is Not A Remedy For Anything Except Wealth

Feb 19 2019 - 16:02
One new craze in the alternatives to medicine community is infusions of plasma from young donors, sold with the claim that it can prevent aging, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and even PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Vampires are just a story people choose to buy, like homeopathy and organic food. Plasma in blood does contain proteins that help blood clot blood but unless you are a trauma patient or have a medically diagnosed clotting condition, you are not benefiting from plasma.

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