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D-brief

When Republicans and Democrats Started Speaking a Different Language

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 20, 2016 1:51 pm

If someone proposed a “death tax”, how likely would you be to vote for it? What if we called it an “estate tax”?

The words used to frame arguments can play an important role in shaping opinions of important issues — “death” and “estate” can yield two different interpretations of the same concept. That the kinds of words we use to build an argument is important has long been known, but a new study led by a researcher at Stanford University suggests that politicians are playing w …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: emotions, psychology

Dead Things

Meet Murusraptor: The Supermodel of Megaraptors

By Gemma Tarlach | July 20, 2016 1:00 pm

Want to find some awesome dinosaur species new to science? Head south. South America is clearly the place to be these days, with Patagonian predator Murusraptor barrosaensis the latest intriguingly odd animal to stomp onto the paleoscene. Like fellow Argentine Gualicho shinyae, announced last week, Murusraptor is known from the partial skeleton of a single specimen. And while Gualicho made headlines for its shorty-short forelimbs, Murusraptor is like those models in perfume ads: a leggy my …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

D-brief

After Rare Event, 2 Earth-sized Exoplanets Are Looking More Habitable

By John Wenz | July 20, 2016 12:35 pm

TRAPPIST-1 may well be one of the closest stars to look for life in our own backyard, thanks to three planets in its habitable zone.

Now, we’re one step closer to understanding if those planets could hold life, thanks to a new study published today in Nature.

Using data gathered from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers at MIT witnessed two occultation events from the innermost planets, TRAPPIST-1b and 1c. The two had near-simultaneous transit events on May 4, 2016 just 12 minutes …

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

Citizen Science Salon

Are We Alone? Citizen Science and the Search for Exoplanets

By Kristin Butler | July 20, 2016 8:56 am

Project Panoptes aims to involve citizens and amateur astronomers in the search for exoplanets

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics
MORE ABOUT: exoplanet

The Crux

Celebrating Viking: Gilbert Levin Recalls the Search for Life on Mars

By David Warmflash | July 20, 2016 6:00 am

Forty years ago today, the first of two landing probes of NASA’s Project Viking touched down on planet Mars.

Discover contributor Dr. David Warmflash spoke with Dr. Gilbert Levin, whose Labeled Release (LR) experiment was one of three instruments delivered by the Viking landers to look for Martian microorganisms in 1976.

At age 92, Levin is the only survivor of the three biology experimenters and he’s looking ahead to 2020 when he hopes to have another instrument on the Martian sur …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

Neuroskeptic

Can Ultrasound Diagnose Autism?

By Neuroskeptic | July 19, 2016 2:17 pm

A paper makes the remarkable claim that autism could be detected through the use of ultrasound to peer beneath the skull. This paper is from 2014, but it just came to my attention.

The authors of the piece, James Jeffrey Bradstreet, Stefania Pacini and Marco Ruggiero, studied 23 children with autism and 15 control children, who were unaffected siblings of the autistic group. Using ultrasound, the authors looked under the skull overlaying the brain’s temporal cortex. The ultrasound reveale …

ImaGeo

The first half of 2016 was the warmest such period by far in a record dating back 137 years

By Tom Yulsman | July 19, 2016 1:47 pm

Global warming continues, but with El Niño’s passing, Earth’s fever has moderated a bit

This past month nudged out June 2015 as the warmest on record, according to data just released by NASA.

That makes the first six months of 2016 the warmest first half of any year since 1880. June’s record warmth also means we’ve experienced nine months in a row of record setting temperatures.

A separate analysis released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also show …

D-brief

The Eye Can Spy a Single Photon

By K. N. Smith | July 19, 2016 1:33 pm

The human eye is sensitive enough pick out a single photon of light in otherwise complete darkness.

Light-sensitive cells called rods, located in the back of your eye, can react to single photons, but that’s not the same as actually seeing the light. Sight, in the way that we think of consciously perceiving a visual, requires the retina and the brain to process those signals. For decades, researchers have wondered how little light the human eye could actually detect. Now, it turns out t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: Senses

The Crux

Extinction Looms for Easter Island's Only Remaining Native Species

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 19, 2016 12:58 pm

On Easter Island, isolated in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, ten species of near microscopic insects are all that remain of the island’s native species — at least for now.

Hidden in volcanic caves that dot the island, the endemic insects of Rapa Nui eke out an existence in an increasingly imperiled habitat. Their ancestral homes, fragile gardens of moss and ferns, are endangered by tourists flooding into the tiny island, and hordes of invasive species threaten to crowd them ou …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, Top Posts

Inkfish

With Robotic Rectum, Doctors Practicing Prostate Exams Are No Longer In the Dark

By Elizabeth Preston | July 19, 2016 11:11 am

The rectal exam is a delicate art to learn. Doctors perform this procedure entirely by feel, with just one finger. Students who are learning how to do such an exam have no way of showing their work to their teachers. And volunteer subjects are—unsurprisingly—rare. In the entire United Kingdom there’s only one person registered as a test subject for rectal exams, says Fernando Bello, who works on surgical computing and simulations at Imperial College London.

Rectum models made of …

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