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The Guardian (U.K.) 

Nasa finds evidence of a vast ancient ocean on Mars

A huge primitive ocean covered one-fifth of the red planet’s surface, making it warm, wet and ideal for alien life to gain a foothold, scientists sayA massive ancient ocean once covered nearly half of the northern hemisphere of Mars making the planet a more promising place for alien life to have gained a foothold, Nasa scientists say.The huge body of water spread over a fifth of the planet

Jaw bone fossil discovered in Ethiopia is oldest known human lineage remains

Around 400,000 years older than previous discovery of homo lineage, 2.8m-year-old jaw and five teeth was found on rocky slope in Afar regionA lower jaw bone and five teeth discovered on a hillside in Ethiopia are the oldest remains ever found that belong to the genus_ Homo_, the lineage that ultimately led to modern humans.Fossil hunters spotted the jaw poking out of a rocky slope in the d

Psychedelic drugs like LSD could be used to treat depression, study suggests

Researchers warn that patients are missing out on potential benefits due to prohibitive regulations on research into recreational drugsPsychedelic drugs could prove to be highly effective treatments for depression and alcoholism, according to scientists who have obtained the first brain scans of people under the influence of LSD.Early results from the trial, involving 20 people, are said t

The strange world of felt presences

What links polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, sleep paralysis, and hearing voices? On 20 May 1916, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and Tom Crean reached Stromness, a whaling station on the north coast of South Georgia. They had been walking for 36 hours, in life-threatening conditions, in an attempt to reach help for the rest of their party: three of their crew were stuck on the south side o

Major laser: the brightest light in the universe, photographed B-movie style

When Texas photographer Robert Shults gained unprecedented access to a Petawatt laser – which can create temperatures 1,000 times hotter than the centre of the sun – he drew on his favourite sci-fi films to show the facility in actionIt is hard to evoke the wondrous power of the Petawatt laser, an example of which is found in a laboratory three storeys underground at the University of Texas.

Cockroach robots? Not nightmare fantasy but science lab reality

Texas engineers attach miniature computer wired into nervous system of live cockroaches for remote control and aim to gather video information in places such as broken sewersThey lurk in dark corners, feed off crumbs, and obey the commands of humans. Years in the making, and a contender for the most revolting creation to emerge from a laboratory, the robo-roach has arrived.Built by enginee

The Guardian view on the Large Hadron Collider: back to the future

Cern’s pathbreaking accelerator remains a breathtaking piece of engineering and science, as well as an example of European cooperation at its bestLater this month an engineer will throw a switch and one of Europe’s most successful cooperations will be back in business. The Large Hadron Collider has already identified a mysterious entity from the first trillionth of a second of creation called H

Mars rover Curiosity halts its work after short circuit

Nasa engineers investigate problem that has stopped the rover’s robotic arm, with testing expected to take daysThe Curiosity rover has temporarily stopped work on Mars while Nasa engineers investigate a short circuit. Related: Methane on Mars: does it mean the Curiosity rover has found life? Continue reading...

Smartphones are addictive and should carry health warning, say academics

University of Derby finds smartphone users in study spent average 3.6 hours a day on devices, often causing severe distraction from relationships and ‘real life’ Smartphones are psychologically addictive, encourage narcissistic tendencies and should come with a health warning, researchers have said.A study by the University of Derby and published in the International Journal of Cyber Behav

Kew Gardens funding is 'recipe for failure', warn MPs

Government criticised over short-term, stop-start funding, which has meant that Kew’s managers cannot plan for its long-term futureWorld class research at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London is being undermined by the government’s financial mismanagement of the organisation, MPs have warned.Funding for the renowned Kew Gardens was “a recipe for failure” that took big decisions out of the h

Statins work for those at highest risk of heart attack – study

Findings published in The Lancet show chance of heart attack drops by 48% when people most at risk take cholesterol-lowering medicationsPatients with the highest genetic risk of suffering a heart attack benefit the most from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, a study has found.Those in intermediate and low-risk categories are still helped by statins but to a lesser extent, according to res

Cannabis: what's in a name?

Recent studies have used “hash” and “skunk” to describe varying strengths of cannabis. Amir Englund explains the complexities of cannabis strain variationCannabis tends to be subdivided into 3 different species: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis. However, these are merely terms used to describe the typology of the plant (it’s “looks” – shape, height, bushiness, and the like) rather than a specific

Mouse gene could help produce TB-resistant cattle, study shows

Breakthrough as scientists in China produce genetically modified animals that are more difficult to infect with tuberculosisScientists have created the first tuberculosis-resistant cattle using genetic engineering techniques. The advance could pave the way for genetically modified farm animals that would be automatically protected against disease, reducing the need for culls of infected herds

European Space Agency’s gravity probe leaves UK for final tests before launch

Pioneering UK-led gravity probe is designed to open a unique window on the universe but the technology can only be tested in space. Fingers crossed for LISA-Pathfinder“This is the first of a new breed of spacecraft,” says Cesar Garcia, Esa Project manager for the LISA-Pathfinder mission, “It is exquisite.” He is speaking to me in the giant cleanroom at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage

Global warming contributed to Syria's 2011 uprising, scientists claim

US study claims regime’s unsustainable agricultural policies meant drought led to collapse of farming in north-eastern region and triggered mass migration to cities and added to feelings of discontentThe prolonged and devastating drought that sparked the mass migration of rural workers into Syrian cities before the 2011 uprising was probably made worse by greenhouse gas emissions, US scientis

Palm scent: the science of smelling after a handshake

New study reveals participants unconsciously sniff their right hand after shaking it with others as part of process to pick up chemical signals about othersA firm handshake has long been viewed as a hallmark of success in the business world, but scientists say that the scent of your hand could also play a part. A study has revealed that after shaking hands, people tend to unconsciously sniff

Average penis size revealed in study results

International study of 15,000 penises is being used to reassure men concerned they are not within the ‘normal range’The enduring question now has a scientific answer: 13.12 centimetres (5.16 inches) in length when erect, and 11.66cm (4.6 inches) around, according to an analysis of more than 15,000 penises around the world.In a flaccid state, it found, the penis of the average man is 9.16cm

Dawn on Ceres: Nasa probe to enter dwarf planet's orbit

First rendezvous with the largest object in the asteroid belt separating Mars from Jupiter will reveal what Ceres is made of Nasa scientists are making final preparations for a spacecraft to begin the first orbits around a dwarf planet in the planetary rubble on the far side of Mars. Almost eight years after blasting off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and travelling 3bn miles (4.8bn km),

Astronauts take third spacewalk to finish tricky cable job at station

A pair of docking ports will fly up later this year, followed by crew capsules commissioned by Nasa, with astronauts aboard in 2017Spacewalking astronauts ventured out for the third time in just over a week Sunday to complete an extensive, tricky cable job at the International Space Station.The advance work – involving nearly 800ft of cable over three spacewalks – is needed for new crew ca

Hubble at 25: the wonder of the universe laid bare

The Hubble telescope, launched 25 years ago next month, is unrivalled in its breathtaking and compelling visions of the cosmos• 25 years of the Hubble telescope – in picturesIt has captured images of stars coalescing out of glowing clouds of dust, peered back more than 10bn years to study the early universe, pinpointed the remnants of supernovae explosions and helped physicists uncover some of

How hunting with wolves helped humans outsmart the Neanderthals

Forty thousand years ago in Europe our ancestors formed a crucial and lasting alliance that enabled us to finish off our evolutionary cousins, the NeanderthalsDogs are humanity’s oldest friends, renowned for their loyalty and abilities to guard, hunt and chase. But modern humans may owe even more to them than we previously realised. We may have to thank them for helping us eradicate our caveman

Why racism is not backed by science

As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakeable: race does not existBarely a week goes by without some dispiriting tale of racism seeping into the public consciousness: the endless stream of Ukip supporters expressing some ill-conceived and unimaginative hate; football hooligans pushing a black man from a train. I am partly of Indian descent, a bit swarthy, and my first exper

Hubble at 25: the cosmos at its most breathtaking – in pictures

The Hubble telescope was launched in April 1990. Ever since, it has been providing astronomers with breathtaking images of the cosmos*Hubble at 25: the wonder of the universe laid bareTHE CARINA NEBULA Continue reading...

Starwatch: The March night sky

If we have neglected to prepare for the solar eclipse on the morning of 20 March, there should still be time. It is probably too late, though, to find accommodation on the Faroe Islands or Svalbard which have the only land on the path of totality, from which the Moon obscures the Sun completely. Britain, and particularly Scotland, is well placed to enjoy a deep partial eclipse with 87% of the Su

Cédric Villani: ‘Mathematics is about progress and adventure and emotion’

Fields medal winner Cédric Villani is an impassioned advocate for mathematics, as Carole Cadwalladr discoversThe second time I meet Cédric Villani is when I bump into him in the Eurostar terminal in Paris. But then how could I miss him? There are crowds of milling businessmen and weekending couples but there, amid the Sunday-night chaos of the Gare du Nord, is a figure who looks like he’s someh

Gene that makes human brain unique identified by scientists

Key DNA strand propels neuron growth in brain’s region central to reasoning, language and sensory perceptionA strand of DNA that lies at the heart of what makes humans unique in the animal kingdom has been identified by researchers in Germany.Scientists in Dresden found a gene that drives the expansion of the human brain and helps to make it the most complex structure in the universe. Co

Why do we care about the colour of the dress?

An optical illusion has proved divisive on social media. But our varying perceptions mean we will find it hard to come to an agreementIt is rare, other than on Oscars night, that the world holds its collective breath discussing dresses and their colours. But, if social media is to be believed, the optical illusion of a multicoloured dress divides us sharply into those who can only see gold-and-

Nasa probe spots mysterious shiny patches on dwarf planet Ceres

Images from Dawn spacecraft reveal a pair of bright spots which scientists believe may be primordial ice reflecting sunlightA Nasa probe that is speeding towards the largest object in the asteroid belt has spotted two mysterious shiny patches on the otherwise dark and cratered body.The latest images from Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft reveal a pair of bright spots on Ceres, a 590-mile-wide dwarf p

Can we trust the claims made in scientific research findings? – podcast

What does the mathematical model of accuracy of research papers say and is CIA studying climate control as a potential weapon? Ian Sample reports from the AAAS meeting in San Jose Continue reading...

Black hole 12bn times more massive than sun is discovered

Scientists name new ‘object’ SDSS J0100+2802 and say it is 12.8bn light years from Earth and was formed just 900m years after the Big Bang A monster black hole powering “the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe” has been discovered that is 12bn times more massive than the sun, scientists have revealed.The extraordinary object is at the centre of a quasar - an intensely powerful gal

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