Month: January 2021

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A new technique using diamonds and titanium has the potential to help remove plastic microfibres before they enter the environment, by decomposing them into naturally occurring molecules.   It’s a secret the fashion industry would prefer to keep under wraps – most of our synthetic clothes are made of plastic, and they’re contributing to a big problem,
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Polarons are important nanoscale phenomena: a transient configuration between electrons and atoms (known as quasiparticles) that exist for only trillionths of a second. These configurations have unique characteristics that can help us understand some of the mysterious behaviours of the materials they form within – and scientists have just observed them for the first time.  
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It’s no accident that cats are adorable: We’ve selectively bred them across generations for maximum cuteness. But that breeding has a downside: It’s left some of our feline friends with permanent frowny faces that cannot show emotions.   In particular, new research published in December in the journal Frontiers of Veterinary Science suggests that selective breeding for the “brachycephalic,”
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Scientists have identified the traits that may make a person more likely to claim they hear the voices of the dead. According to new research, a predisposition to high levels of absorption in tasks, unusual auditory experiences in childhood, and a high susceptibility to auditory hallucinations all occur more strongly in self-described clairaudient mediums than
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A desert gecko from Namibia has brilliant glow-in-the-dark markings that shine neon green by the light of the moon. The mechanism that produces its glow has never been seen before in land animals with backbones.     Web-footed geckos (Pachydactylus rangei) have translucent skin with large, yellowish markings: stripes on their sides and rings surrounding their eyes.
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Forests and other land ecosystems today absorb 30 percent of humanity’s CO2 pollution, but rapid global warming could transform these natural ‘sinks’ into carbon ‘sources’ within a few decades, opening another daunting front in the fight against climate change, alarmed researchers have said.   Climate skeptics often describe CO2 as “plant food”, suggesting that increased
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The emergency is not invisible. But that doesn’t mean we can see it. After decades of inaction and ineffective action on biodiversity decline, climate change, and pollution, civilisation stands on the precipice of a “ghastly future” it has gravely underestimated, an international team of scientific experts warns in an unnerving new study published this week.
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The idea of artificial intelligence overthrowing humankind has been talked about for many decades, and scientists have just delivered their verdict on whether we’d be able to control a high-level computer super-intelligence. The answer? Almost definitely not.   The catch is that controlling a super-intelligence far beyond human comprehension would require a simulation of that
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Metals and insulators are the yin and yang of physics, their respective material properties strictly dictated by their electrons’ mobility – metals should conduct electrons freely, while insulators keep them in place.    So when physicists from Princeton University in the US found a quantum quirk of metals bouncing around inside an insulating compound, they
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Scientists have identified an entirely new mode of snake locomotion. The newly documented climbing behaviour is difficult, but allows snakes to impressively shimmy up large, smooth cylinders.   Researchers have dubbed it ‘lasso locomotion’, because the snake climbs poles by lassoing its body around the cylindrical structures, gripping them tightly in a looped noose from
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A long-extinct lineage of insect, known fondly as the ‘hell ant’, has been discovered frozen in 99-million-year-old amber, with its scythe-like jaw still pinning its prey. According to scientists, this fierce predator is a newly identified species of prehistoric ant, known as Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri, and it’s the first time we’ve ever seen a hell ant actively
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Scientists are studying a major, once-in-a-century drought from Medieval Europe to better understand how extreme weather events indicate rapid climate changes. In the years leading up to the Little Ice Age, between 1302 and 1307, many regions on the European continent were facing exceptional heat and drought, according to historical records and data collected from