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Dead Things

Ochre Engraving On Bones From China Oldest Symbolic Use

By Gemma Tarlach | July 15, 2019 3:06 pm

Ochre engraving on a rib fragment from China is the oldest evidence for the material’s symbolic usage, say researchers behind the find (top: photograph; bottom: illustration). (Credit: Francesco d’Errico and Luc Doyon)

Two pieces of animal bones with ochre engraving, found in central China, are the latest evidence that members of the human family used the material to express abstract ideas much earlier than once believed — and much further from Africa.

Researchers studying the find ca …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: human evolution

ImaGeo

A dramatic view of Tropical Storm Barry unlike any you may have seen before

By Tom Yulsman | July 12, 2019 5:38 pm

An animation of GOES-16 satellite imagery acquired in the infrared reveals the evolution of Tropical Storm Barry on Friday, July 12, 2019. The crackling white and blue areas are indicative of lightning activity. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA GOES-16/17 Loop of the Day)

Tropical Storm Barry is now expected to make landfall as a hurricane.

As I’m writing this Thursday afternoon, July 12, Barry is churning slowly over the northern Gulf of Mexico, strengthening as it tarries over warm water. As it nea …

D-brief

Scientists Made a Microbe-Boosting Diet to Help Malnourished Kids Grow

By Daniel Bastardo Blanco | July 12, 2019 2:25 pm

A malnourished child at a camp in Bangladesh. (Credit: Pahari Himu/Shutterstock)

One in four children will never grow to a normal height. In developing countries, the number can be as high as one in three. The problem? Malnutrition.

Now scientists have developed a diet that can boost key colonies of gut bacteria in malnourished kids. The finding is important because past research has shown these bacteria are essential for healthy growth and development. The study paves the way for a new …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: microbiome, nutrition

The Crux

What Are Intermediate-Mass Black Holes?

By Jake Parks | July 12, 2019 1:52 pm

The hunt for intermediate-mass black holes (IMBH) has picked up over recent years, and there are now dozens of promising candidates. This artist’s concept depicts a 2,200 solar mass IMBH suspected to reside in the heart of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, located some 15,000 light-years from Earth. (Credit: B. Kiziltan/T. Karacan)

Black holes have long served as fodder for science fiction — and for good reason. These unimaginably dense objects contain so much matter trapped in such a small …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: black holes

D-brief

NASA Built Rock Climbing Robots to Scale Cliffs on Mars and Beyond

By Korey Haynes | July 12, 2019 1:45 pm

LEMUR can climb walls with special gripping feet, and is only one of a suite of climbing NASA robots. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has built many adventurous robots that can fly in space, land on alien planets, roll across Martian and lunar terrain, and even fly helicopter-style across far-off worlds. But the next big challenge is climbing and clambering across rough or steep terrain, a common sight whether on rocky Mars or icy Enceladus.

To that end, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laborator …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: NASA

The Crux

Are These Supermassive Black Holes on a Collision Course?

By Alison Klesman | July 12, 2019 1:34 pm

This galaxy, which sits about 2.5 billion light-years away, hosts two supermassive black holes (inset), visible because of the heated gas, dust, and stars around them. The two black holes are on a collision course, but astronomers still aren’t sure whether they will – or can – merge. (Credit: A.D. Goulding et al./Astrophysical Journal Letters 2019)

By now, merging black holes and the gravitational waves they produce are a scientific surety. Astronomers have observed several black hole merger …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: black holes

D-brief

Viking Relics Will Disappear With Climate Change, Study Says

By Roni Dengler | July 12, 2019 12:30 pm

Archaeological sites in the Nuuk Region along Greenland’s southern coast, shown here, are among those in the most danger from climate change. (Credit: XPixel/shutterstock)

Hailing from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the seafaring pirates best known as Vikings, or Norsemen, raided and colonized Europe from the ninth to eleventh centuries. They also established settlements throughout the Arctic including in Greenland. Now researchers say that climate change is threatening the cultural history of  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

D-brief

New 'Vegebot' Highlights Why Robots Won't Replace Vegetable Pickers Anytime Soon

By Anna Groves | July 11, 2019 4:51 pm

Cambridge researchers have a new lettuce-picking robot. Its success underlines the challenges of automating vegetable picking. (Credit: leungchopan/shutterstock)

A skilled human can pick a head of lettuce every 10 seconds. Just reach down, slice a mature head off its stalk, bag it, toss it in the cart. Easy, right?

Tell that to wannabe veggie-picking robots. For them, it’s actually quite a challenge.

Earlier this week, a team from the University of Cambridge published their latest r …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: robotics

D-brief

An AI Bot Just Beat Poker Pros In Six-Player Texas Hold’em

By Roni Dengler | July 11, 2019 2:15 pm

(Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock)

The best poker players in the world can cash in on millions of dollars in a game. Played in casinos, poker clubs, private homes and on the internet, the game demands skill and strategy.

Now scientists have created an artificial intelligence (AI) bot that can best even the top human players. And this new AI won at six-player poker. Bots were already dominant at two, or three-player poker, but six players is much harder. The feat represents a maj …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

D-brief

Japanese Asteroid Mission Touches Down on Ryugu, Collects Sample

By Korey Haynes | July 11, 2019 2:01 pm

Hayabusa2 has successfully collected its second sample from the surface of asteroid Ryugu. (Credit: Illustration by Akihiro Ikeshita (C), JAXA)

Hayabusa2’s encounters with asteroid Ryugu have been delightfully action-packed. In February, the Japanese spacecraft collected its first sample by swooping close and firing a bullet into the asteroid’s surface to stir up material it then snagged with a horn-shaped collector. Then, in April, it shot a much larger impactor into Ryugu, creating an  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: asteroids
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