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Running ants: Why scientists built an insect treadmill

Scientists from the University of Freiburg have designed a treadmill specifically for ants – with the aim of revealing their navigation secrets. Desert ants are able to locate and travel to their nest very quickly; with their brains keeping track of the number of steps they have taken and their orientation. The researchers, who published their design in the Journal ...

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Autism detectable in brain long before symptoms appear

Brain scans can detect autism long before any symptoms start to emerge, say scientists.The earliest that children tend to be diagnosed at present is at the age of two, although it is often later. The study, published in the journal Nature, showed the origins of autism are much earlier than that – in the first year of life.The findings could ...

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How can the UK reduce air pollution?

The European Commission says the UK has two months to address “persistent breaches” of air pollutants – specifically nitrogen dioxide – after it issued a “final warning”.Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) comes from sources including factories and vehicles, particularly diesel engines, and is linked to an increased risk of respiratory problems.Why was the UK given a warning?Under EU law, when air pollution ...

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Weather experts say new El Niño possible later this year

Scientists from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) say there is a possibility of a new El Niño event forming later this year.In 2015 and 2016, a powerful El Niño drove up global temperatures and played a role in droughts in many parts of the world.Normally the weather phenomenon only re-appears every two to seven years. Neutral conditions are most likely ...

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Disputed CRISPR Patents Stay with Broad Institute, U.S. Panel Rules

The US patent office ruled on Wednesday that hotly disputed patents on the revolutionary genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 belong to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, dealing a blow to the University of California in its efforts to overturn those patents. In a one-sentence decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board that the University of California shared with STAT, ...

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Winston Churchill, Astrobiologist

Winston Churchill is best known as a wartime leader, one of the most influential politicians of the twentieth century, a clear-eyed historian and an eloquent orator. He was also passionate about science and technology. Aged 22, while stationed with the British Army in India in 1896, he read Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and a primer on physics. In ...

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Churchill's Extraterrestrials

Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio writes in the journal Nature and talks to Scientific American about the recently rediscovered essay by Winston Churchill that analyzed with impressive scientific accuracy the conditions under which extraterrestrial life might exist.   Credit: SUPERSTOCK Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio writes in the journal Nature and talks to Scientific American about the recently rediscovered essay ...

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Alzheimer's Drug Fails in Another Crushing Disappointment

By Reuters Staff (Reuters) – Merck & Co Inc said on Tuesday it will halt a late-stage trial of an Alzheimer’s drug after it was determined that it had no chance of working, marking the latest in a long line of crushing disappointments in efforts to find an effective treatment for the disease. The company was testing its drug, verubecestat, ...

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W.E.B. Du Bois, Scientific American and Data Stories of the Early 1900s

A few days ago, I stumbled across a fascinating collection of hand-drawn infographics by W.E.B. Du Bois, the African-American activist and scholar who co-founded the NAACP in 1909. The series of 60 hand-drawn data visualizations was digitized by the Library of Congress in 2014, and has recently resurfaced in the media in honor of Black History Month. Dated circa 1900, ...

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Autism Starts Months before Symptoms Appear, Study Shows

Parents often notice the first signs of autism in their children at around 12 to 18 months. Maybe a child isn’t making eye contact, or won’t smile when mom or dad walks in the door. But a new study suggests there is evidence of autism in the brain even earlier—well before a child’s first birthday—and that the signs can be ...

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