Some things never change. Scientists said on Friday they had replicated an experiment in which people obediently delivered painful shocks to others if encouraged to do so by authority figures. Seventy percent of volunteers continued to administer electrical shocks -- or at least they believed they were doing so -- even after an actor claimed they were painful, Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University in California found. "What we found is validation of the same argument -- if you put people into certain situations, they will act in surprising, and maybe often even disturbing, ways," Burger said in a telephone interview. "This research is still relevant." Burger was replicating an experiment published in 1961 by Yale University professor Stanley Milgram, in which volunteers were asked to deliver electric "shocks" to other people if they answered certain questions incorrectly.
In a truly astonishing betrayal of public safety (even for the FDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today revoked its warning about mercury in fish, saying that eating mercury-contaminated fish no longer poses any health threat to children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants.
Recent satellite observations have revealed the largest breach yet seen in the magnetic field that protects Earth from most of the sun's violent blasts, researchers reported Tuesday. The discovery was made last summer by Themis, a fleet of five small NASA satellites. Scientists have long known that the Earth's magnetic field, which guards against severe space weather, is similar to a drafty old house that sometimes lets in violent eruptions of charged particles from the sun. Such a breach can cause brilliant auroras or disrupt satellite and ground communications. Observations from Themis show the Earth's magnetic field occasionally develops two cracks, allowing solar wind — a stream of charged particles spewing from the sun at 1 million mph — to penetrate the Earth's upper atmosphere.
The eyes had it, even 45 million years ago. Two flies stuck in Baltic amber still have enough soft tissue to confirm predictions that their kind had already evolved a fancy, open array of photoreceptors, according to a paper published online December 16 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Preserved, ancient eyes have turned up before, but “usually you don’t get the internal parts,” says Andrew Parker of the Natural History Museum in London. The bulging red eyes on these flies have what Parker says could be the oldest retinas yet examined. And possibly best of all, “this time we could take it apart,” Parker says. An intriguing fly eye he wrote about in 1998 had a fascinating outer surface, but the keepers of the specimen were not open to any cutting to see the inside.
The next decade will see the world become increasingly reliant on robotic labour, according to researchers, who warn that there could also be some unintended social consequences.
British archaeologists have unearthed an ancient skull carrying a startling surprise — an unusually well-preserved brain. Scientists said Friday that the mass of gray matter was more than 2,000 years old — the oldest ever discovered in Britain. One expert unconnected with the find called it "a real freak of preservation." The skull was severed from its owner sometime before the Roman invasion of Britain and found in a muddy pit during a dig at the University of York in northern England this fall, according to Richard Hall, a director of York Archaeological Trust. Finds officer Rachel Cubbitt realized the skull might contain a brain when she felt something move inside the cranium as she was cleaning it, Hall said. She looked through the skull's base and spotted an unusual yellow substance inside. Scans at York Hospital confirmed the presence of brain tissue. Hall said it was unclear just how much of the brain had survived, saying the tissue had apparently contracted over the years. Parts of the brain have been tentatively identified, but more research was needed, he said.
A team of Franciscan archaeologists digging in the biblical town of Magdala in what is now Israel say they have unearthed vials of perfume similar to those that may have been used by the woman said to have washed Jesus' feet.
[Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, with an altitude of 8,848 meters (29,028 feet), is seen in this aerial view taken from a passenger aircraft flying over Nepal, November 9, 2008. A brain swelling condition related to low oxygen levels in the air may have caused many of the deaths of people climbing Mount Everest, researchers said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan] An international team led by Paul Firth of Massachusetts General Hospital studied the 212 reported deaths from 1921 to 2006 on Mount Everest, the highest on Earth. Hazards awaiting those who dare to climb the 29,000-foot (8,850 meter) Himalayan mountain include extreme cold, whipping winds, changing weather, treacherous climbs and avalanches. Oxygen content in the air is only a third of that at sea level. "Nobody was attacked by any Yeti or anything else," Firth said, referring to the "abominable snowman" of legend. Firth said that while the cause of some deaths could not be determined with certainty, many appeared to have been the result of high-altitude cerebral edema.
Two new studies point to a wonderful way to ward off Alzheimer's disease and other forms of age-related memory loss.
The Millennium Seed Bank in Britain – a sort of Noah’s Ark for plants – is under threat due to a lack of funding caused by the credit crunch. The world’s largest plant conservation project opened in 2000 and was meant to gather seeds from every flowering plant on the planet and keep them stored for future generations.
A group of the world's leading scientists has urged the United Nations to establish an international network to search the skies for asteroids on a collision course with Earth. The spaceguard system would also be responsible for deploying spacecraft that could destroy or deflect incoming objects.
Research shows most people wait up to two hours after the onset of heart attack symptoms before seeking medical attention, either because they are uncertain about their symptoms, think it is a false alarm or are afraid to acknowledge what is happening to them.
A study of the relationships of nearly 5,000 people tracked for decades in the Framingham Heart Study shows that good cheer spreads through social networks of nearby family, friends and neighbors.
Thanks to poor dental hygiene, researchers are getting a more detailed understanding of what people ate thousands of years ago in what is now Peru. Dental plaque scraped from the teeth of people who lived as much as 9,200 years ago revealed traces of cultivated crops, including squash and beans, according to a report in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These ancient people also ate peanuts and a local tree-borne fruit known as pacay, according to the report by Dolores Piperno, a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the National Museum of Natural History, and Tom Dillehay, professor of archaeology at Vanderbilt University. They studied 39 teeth from six to eight individuals. Found in northern Peru's Nanchoc Valley, the teeth were uncovered in the remains of round house structures in a settlement dated to 9,200 to 5,500 years ago.
Not all deadly creatures of the animal kingdom advertise the fact that they can do some serious damage. Some are cute and furry, resembling household pets, while others appear deceptively slow and calm or just blend into their surroundings altogether. Whether it’s a predatory instinct or a defense mechanism, these unassuming creatures will lull you into a false sense of security before jumping at you with mouths full of razor-sharp teeth, or injecting you with venom that’ll leave you paralyzed in incomprehensible agony, unable to move. Keep your distance and give them some respect, or pay the consequences.
It works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires' disease or other infections. The machine's inventor and Element Four's founder, Jonathan Ritchey- "The demand for water is off the chart. People are looking for freedom from water distribution systems that are shaky and increasingly unreliable."
Giant glaciers buried under the surface of Mars at much lower latitudes than any previously known ice are a potential source of drinking water for future astronauts. The discovery, made using ground-penetrating radar on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, offers new possibilities in the search for life on the red planet.
Hypnosis, with its long and checkered history in medicine and entertainment, is receiving some new respect from neuroscientists. Recent brain studies of people who are susceptible to suggestion indicate that when they act on the suggestions their brains show profound changes in how they process information. The suggestions, researchers report, literally change what people see, hear, feel and believe to be true.
Scientists in the U.S. have discovered the genetic code of the woolly mammoth, an animal that's been extinct since the Ice Age. It's led to fevered speculation that there might one day be hope of reviving it. Scientists have pieced together 80 per cent of the mammoth's genome, using DNA samples from hair preserved over ten thousands of years in the Siberian permafrost. It raises the prospect that it may one day be possible to resurrect these creatures as well as some other species that died out at the end of the last ice age. The research also revealed that mammoths were more closely related to modern elephants than had been thought. The million-dollar project is a first draft, detailing more than three billion DNA building blocks of the mammoth, the study published in Thursday's journal Nature says. It's not finished yet, but that's already enough to give scientists new clues on the timing of evolution and the reasons behind ancient creatures’ extinction.
Scientists claim to have found a cure for 'werewolf syndrome', a condition which leaves the face and body of the sufferer covered in hair. Pruthviraj Patil, 11, is one of just 50 people in the world with the rare genetic condition, called hypertrichosis. Pruthviraj's family have tried a range of treatments - including homeopathy, traditional Indian Ayurvedic remedies and more recently laser surgery – but none has proved successful. Now, following a worldwide appeal to doctors to help him find a permanent cure, scientists at Columbia University, in New York, believe they might have found one - by injecting the patient with testosterone.
A grave with the remains of a mother and father huddled together with two sons has been dated to 4,600 years ago and marks the oldest genetic evidence for a nuclear family, researchers say. The individuals were carefully arranged in their graves to denote they were part of a biological family, the researchers say. Wounds on the remains suggest the parents and kids were defending themselves against a violent raid, involving stone axes and arrows, at the time of their deaths. The family grave is one of four burials discovered in 2005 near Eulau, Germany. All together, the burials hold 13 individuals, including adults ages 30 years and older, and children ranging from newborn to 10 years old at death. The results, detailed this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest biological relationships were the focus of social organization in the Late Stone Age society.
In a new study, researchers examined the brains of five dead people who were considered super aged because after age 80 they had performed higher on memory tests than others their age. The scientists compared these brains to those of "normal" dead people - elderly, non-demented individuals.
Fomalhaut (sounds like "foam-a-lot") is a bright, young, star, a short 25 light-years from planet Earth in the direction of the constellation Piscis Austrinus. In this sharp composite from the Hubble Space Telescope, Fomalhaut's surrounding ring of dusty debris is imaged in detail, with overwhelming glare from the star masked by an occulting disk in the camera's coronagraph. Astronomers now identify, the tiny point of light in the small box at the right as a planet about 3 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting 10.7 billion miles from the star (almost 14 times the Sun-Jupiter distance). Designated Fomalhaut b, the massive planet probably shapes and maintains the ring's relatively sharp inner edge, while the ring itself is likely a larger, younger analog of our own Kuiper Belt - the solar system's outer reservoir of icy bodies. The Hubble data represent the first visible-light image of a planet circling another star.
1666: Samuel Pepys, writing in his famous diary, records the first description of a blood transfusion. Pepys (whose name is usually pronounced Peeps, or occasionally Peppis) was an able administrator for the Royal Navy, as well as a member of Parliament. But he is best remembered for his sprawling diary kept during the tumultuous mid-1600s, a time that saw such events as the Great Plague of London, the rise of Oliver Cromwell and the Great Fire of London in 1666. He also wrote extensively on the more mundane aspects of everyday life in Restoration England. Pepys began writing his diary as a vanity project. According to a website dedicated to him, Pepys was proud of his achievements, and "writing down events involving him gave him great pleasure; re-reading them even more so." His observations of the dog-to-dog transfusion were made barely four decades after English physician William Harvey declared that blood circulated through the body with the heart acting as the pump. Harvey actually rediscovered what had been discovered much earlier by Ibn al-Nafis, a 13th-century Arab physician.
Scientists from Maastricht University have developed a method to look into the brain of a person and read out who has spoken to him or her and what was said. With the help of neuroimaging and data mining techniques the researchers mapped the brain activity associated with the recognition of speech sounds and voices.
Some slender Australian lizards called skinks have gone from being five-fingered to legless (like most snakes) in just 3.6 million years, a new study finds. That's a blink of an eye in geologic time. For comparison, if a 1,000-sheet roll of toilet paper represented all of Earth's geologic history, it is only on the last square of paper that bipedal ancestors of Homo sapiens showed up — about 4.5 million years ago, said Penn State geologist Robert Giegengack, who was not involved in the study. There are 75 species of these fast-evolving skinks called Lerista. These skinks have been crawling and slithering around Earth for about 13.4 million years, and even today, some have five fingers, some have four and some have none, or tiny stubs for legs. So researchers from the University of Adelaide used genetic sequences to arrive at a new family tree for the skinks that showed when and how fast they had lost their fingers or entire legs throughout their evolution.
Archaeologists have discovered a new pyramid under the sands of Saqqara, an ancient burial site that remains largely unexplored, Egyptian authorities announced Tuesday. The 4,300-year-old monument most likely belonged to the queen mother of the founder of the Sixth Dynasty, the antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said. The pyramid is the 118th discovered in Egypt. “To find a new pyramid is always exciting,” Mr. Hawass said. “And this one is magical. It belonged to a queen.” BBC: In pictures: New pyramid found.
Israeli archeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old gold earring beneath a parking lot next to the walls of Jerusalem's old city, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday. The discovery dates back to the time of Christ, during the Roman period, said Doron Ben-Ami, director of excavation at the site. The piece was found in a Byzantine structure built several centuries after the jeweled earring was made, showing it was likely passed down through generations, he said. The find is luxurious: A large pearl inlaid in gold with two drop pieces, each with an emerald and pearl set in gold. "It must have belonged to someone of the elite in Jerusalem," Ben-Ami said. "Such a precious item, it couldn't be one of just ordinary people." In a statement released Monday, the authority said the piece of jewelry was "astonishingly well-preserved." Finds from the Roman period are rare in Jerusalem, Ben-Ami said, because the city was destroyed by the Roman Empire in the first century A.D. Shimon Gibson, an American archaeologist who was not involved in the dig, said the find was truly amazing, less because of its Roman origins than for its precious nature.
The phenomenally popular Mars Phoenix Lander mission has officially come to an end. Originally slated for a mere 90 days near the Martian north pole, clever NASA power engineers kept the Lander doing science for nearly two months beyond that goal. But now mission officials are certain: The lander has run out of power for its internal heater and is presumed to be frozen on the arctic plane. "At this time, we're pretty convinced that the vehicle is no longer available for us to use," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We're ceasing operations and declaring an end to mission operations at this point." As late as last week, the team was still trying to eke a few more experiments out of the robotic lander, even as the declining amount of solar energy in the pole area made their task more difficult. Daily Galaxy: Has Mars Science Laboratory Made the Discovery of the Decade?
An astounding batch of new deep-sea discoveries, from strange shark behavior to gigantic bacteria, was announced today by an international group of 2,000 scientists from 82 nations. The Census of Marine Life is a 10-year project to determine what's down there. Among the new findings: A large proportion of deep sea octopus species worldwide evolved from common ancestor species that still exist in the Southern Ocean. Octopuses started migrating to new ocean basins more than 30 million years ago when, as Antarctica cooled and a large icesheet grew, nature created a "thermohaline expressway," a northbound flow of tasty frigid water with high salt and oxygen content. Isolated in new habitat conditions, many different species evolved; some octopuses, for example, losing their defensive ink sacs — pointless at perpetually dark depths.
The Wings on Flightless Birds -In 1798, sixty years before Charles Darwin?s first book was published, a French anatomist, É´ienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire, traveled to Egypt with Napoleon where he witnessed and wrote about a flightless bird whose wings appeared useless for soaring.
FOR YEARS David Bellamy was one of the best known faces on TV. A respected botanist and the author of 35 books, he had presented around 400 programmes over the years and was appreciated by audiences for his boundless enthusiasm. Yet for more than 10 years he has been out of the limelight, shunned by bosses at the BBC where he made his name, as well as fellow scientists and environmentalists.
Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying behavior suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain, U.S. researchers said. While this may come as little surprise to those who have been victimised by bullies, it is not what the researchers expected, Benjamin Lahey of the University of Chicago, who worked on the study, said.
During surgery, anesthesia immobilizes a person while putting them in a sleep-like state where there is no awareness and no pain. But after more than a century of "going under," we still do not fully understand how anesthesia works, said Anthony Hudetz in the Department of Anesthesiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. New research by Hudetz and his colleagues now suggests that anesthesia somehow disrupts information connections in the mind and perhaps inactivates two regions at the back of the brain.
Engineers have constructed a solar array smaller than a dime out f 20 solar cells, each cell tinier than a quarter of this lowercase "o." The mini photoelectric device only generates seven volts of electricity, but that could be enough to power microsensors like those military planners imagine will provide the soldier of the future with first-person-shooter-like battlefield intelligence. That's why the Army is a major sponsor of the project, which is described in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. Live Science: New Spray-on Solar Cells Invented.
While Earth has experienced numerous changes in climate over the past 65 million years, recent decades have experienced the most significant climate change since the beginning of human civilized societies about 5,000 years ago, says a new Cornell University study. The paleo-climate record shows very rapid periods of cooling in the past, when temperatures have dropped by as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) in a matter of years to decades, "the rate of warming we are seeing [now] is unprecedented in human history," said Cornell oceanographer Charles Greene, the lead author of the paper appearing in the November 2008 issue of the journal Ecology, which is published by the Ecological Society of America. During the past 50 years, melting Arctic ice sheets and glaciers have periodically released cold, low-salinity slugs of water from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic. This has led to dramatic ecosystem shifts as far south as North Carolina and extensive geographic range shifts of many plant and animal species. One microscopic algal species from the Pacific Ocean, not seen in the North Atlantic for over 800,000 years, has successfully crossed over the Arctic Ocean and reinvaded the North Atlantic during the past decade.
Michael Crichton, the author behind the fictional world of Jurassic Park, died yesterday at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer that he hid from the public eye. Crichton, the author of more than a dozen bestselling novels and creator of the medical drama series ER, died unexpectedly in Los Angeles, his family said. Steven Spielberg, who directed the film of Jurassic Park, said: “Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosaurs . . . He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth.” Mr Spielberg added: “Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.” Baltimore Sun: Michael Crichton, writer and director, dies at 66. NYT: An Appraisal: Builder of Windup Realms That Thrillingly Run Amok. Examiner.com: Remembering the work of Michael Crichton: from The Andromeda Strain to Next. The Critical Thinker: Michael Crichton On The Parallels Between Environmentalism and Organized Religion. You Tube: Michael Crichton on Environmentalism as a Religion. + Michael Crichton on Global Warming, Part 1 of 3.
"Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus.
Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." ~Michael Crichton
A new comparison of chimpanzee and human genomes has offered an early but tantalizing look into what makes the two species, nearly identical at the DNA level, so different. Scientists found key differences in areas linked to cell differentiation and immune response — and that could be just the beginning. "By looking at all the variations, we will get a catalog, and when we find a variation in a person with a disease, it will help us understand the function of that variation," said study co-author Richard Redon, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "It will help us understand better how our species emerged." Science Daily: DNA Chunks, Chimps And Humans: Marks Of Differences Between Human And Chimp Genomes.
A 10-foot-long Atlantic bluefin tuna was fitted last week with the 1,000th electronic tracking tag ever placed on this fast, large and powerful yet threatened species. The fish was then released in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off Port Hood, Nova Scotia. Sushi connoisseurs revere bluefin tuna above all other fish species, but soaring commercial values have contributed to a near-collapse of bluefin populations in both the West and East Atlantic. The fish was tagged by a scientific team from the Tag-A-Giant (TAG) campaign of Stanford University, Dalhousie University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, working in collaboration with Canadian fishermen from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. TAG strives to set sustainable limits for commercial and recreational fisheries so they can recover from a vast population decline resulting from overfishing.
Taking folic acid or other B vitamin supplements won't lower your risk of cancer, new research shows. However, the good news is that it won'tincreaseyour risk either, according to the study, which was published in the Nov. 5 issue of theJournal of the American Medical Association.
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