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The Crux

Where Do New Languages Come From?

By Elizabeth Svoboda | February 12, 2019 12:05 pm

In the desert town of Lajamanu, Australia, at the bend of a narrow dirt road, Carmel O’Shannessy worked at a school as a teacher-linguist in the early 2000s. Lajamanu’s Indigenous Warlpiri people, who live in the country’s Northern Territory, were skilled at drawing sustenance from the landscape’s parched red soil, and O’Shannessy soon discovered hidden cultural riches the Warlpiri had stored up.

As she got to know the children in the community, O’Shannessy noticed they had a  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

Vintage Space

NASA Once Made an Official Ruling on Women and Pantsuits

By Amy Shira Teitel | February 12, 2019 12:03 pm

In 1970, NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Centre was forced to address a tricky new issue in the realm of women in space: the validity of pants in the workplace. 

Women and pants have a strange relationship throughout the 20th century, and further back, too, though for the moment we aren’t going to get into Joan of Arc wearing men’s armour. Pants — or trousers or slacks — began the last century as men’s clothing, but it wasn’t long before exceptions started to appear in the form of athl …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

Citizen Science Salon

What’s not to LOVE about Citizen Science?

By lshell | February 10, 2019 3:57 pm

Advance research about heart health, early childhood development, animal lifespans, and more.

Then, mark your calendars! Citizen Science Day is April 13. Sign up to join the global Megathon and help us accelerate research on Alzheimer’s! Participate from home or join a team at a local library.

Librarians: Check out the free Citizen Science Day webinars featured below. Then register your library if you’d like to get involved in Citizen Science Day 2019.

The SciStarter T …


The Crux

With Ancient Human DNA, Africa's Deep History Is Coming to Light

By Bridget Alex | February 8, 2019 3:00 pm

In 2010, extraordinary circumstances allowed geneticists to reconstruct the first full genome of an ancient human: the DNA came from a hairball, frozen 4,000 years in Greenland soil. Since then, methods have improved so much in cost and efficiency that individual papers now report genomic data from hundreds of dead people (here, here, here). Ancient DNA (aDNA) has now been published from well over 2,000 human ancestors, stretching as far back as 430,000 years ago.

But around 70 percent of …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts

The Crux

How Scientists Actually Dismantle a Nuclear Bomb

By Benjamin Plackett | February 8, 2019 2:30 pm

(Inside Science) — There are enough nuclear weapons in the world to cause atomic Armageddon many times over, according to scientists, who estimate that no country could fire more than 100 nuclear warheads without wreaking such devastation that their own citizens back home would be killed.

Most nuclear nations recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons — namely, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — have set about reducing their arsenals. C …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: weapons & security


The U.S. climate became afflicted by split personality disorder in 2018

By Tom Yulsman | February 8, 2019 12:07 am

Meanwhile, the Earth as a whole continues to ride the up-escalator of human-caused global warming

Two U.S. agencies have reported on how Earth’s climate fared in 2018. For the most part, the news wasn’t all that surprising: The long-term trend of human-caused global warming showed no significant signs of relenting.

But I was surprised by one finding: The United States experienced something of a split climatic personality last year.

More about that in a minute. First, though, NASA an …

Dead Things

Bone Cancer In 240 Million-Year-Old Proto-Turtle Pappochelys

By Gemma Tarlach | February 7, 2019 10:00 am

While many people think of cancer as a modern plague, researchers continue to find examples of tumors in animals much older than our own species. Discovery of bone cancer in a very early member of the turtle lineage, which lived 240 million years ago, reveals new information about the disease and just how long it’s been a scourge to living things.

The aggressive osteosarcoma was found in the femur of Pappochelys rosinae, a roughly 240 million-year-old reptile. Though you might mistak …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


Silent Neurons: The Dark Matter of the Brain?

By Neuroskeptic | February 6, 2019 3:38 pm

Now here’s a paper with an interesting title: The dark matter of the brain

Author Saak V. Ovsepian argues that “the great majority of nerve cells in the intact brain do not fire action potentials, i.e., are permanently silent.” This is a remarkable claim, and it raises the question of what these silent neurons are doing. However, I didn’t find myself convinced of the existence of this ‘dark matter’.

Ovsepian points out that numerous studies have found that only a minority of the neur …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: papers, select, Top Posts


As Earth warms from human activities, brutal cold waves are becoming less severe, not more so

By Tom Yulsman | February 5, 2019 5:49 pm

As brutal cold spilled out of the Arctic and enveloped much of the U.S. Upper Midwest and Great Lakes in late January, news stories tied the event to global warming. Here’s a sampling of headlines:

“Brace for the Polar Vortex; It May Be Visiting More Often” (NY Times)

“The Polar Vortex And How It’s Related To Global Warming (Forbes)

“Polar Vortex Linked to Climate Change (WGBH)

An increasing but still contested body of science suggests that rapid and intense warming in the Ar …

Medicane Numa, captured by Aqua's MODIS image on November 18, 2017. NASA.

Rocky Planet

Climate Change Could Make Mediterranean Hurricanes More Damaging

By Erik Klemetti | February 5, 2019 10:53 am

Trying to model what the cascading impact of anthropogenic climate change might be around the world is challenging to say the least. This isn’t a simple relationship where global average temperature goes up and everything changes in concert. As we’ve seen in the United States with the Polar Vortex, a warmer average global climate can also mean much colder short-term weather as typical patterns are perturbed by the chain of events caused by warming. So, as the dominoes fall in a changing glob …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs

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