Science, Technology and Innovation

Should all Nobel Prizes be canceled for a year?

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If you ever meet someone who claims to have nearly won the Nobel Prize in mathematics, walk away: You’re dealing with a deeply delusional individual. Brian Keating The Conversation While there isn’t, and has never been, a Nobel in mathematics, the desire to claim Nobel-worthiness is sensible, for no matter the field, it is the world’s most prestigious accolade. The annual prizes are Sweden’s most sacred holiday, bringing out royalty in the arts and sciences and a worldwide audience of ... Read More »

Three things we can all learn from people who don’t use smartphones or social media

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Many of us spend hours every day tethered to our devices, pawing at the screen to see if it will deliver a few more likes or emails, monitoring the world and honing our online presence. Authors: The Conversation Social networking platforms such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are supposed to make us feel more connected. Yet our reliance on technology to “see” the social world around us can be a heavy burden. The Pew Research Centre recently reported ... Read More »

Essential reading to get your head around Australia’s aged care crisis

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Tonight ABC’s Four Corners will air the first of a two-part investigation into the often shocking treatment of the elderly in aged care homes around Australia. Sasha Petrova The Conversation The timing coincides with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s weekend announcement of a royal commission into Australia’s aged care system. The prime minister said poor standards had led authorities to close one aged centre per month since the Oakden aged mental health home scandal. South Australia’s Oakden facility closed nearly a ... Read More »

We are predisposed to forgive, new research suggests

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When assessing the moral character of others, people cling to good impressions but readily adjust their opinions about those who have behaved badly, according to new research. Yale University EurekAlert! This flexibility in judging transgressors might help explain both how humans forgive — and why they sometimes stay in bad relationships, said the study’s authors. The research — conducted by psychologists at Yale, University of Oxford, University College London, and the International School for Advanced Studies — appeared Sept. 17 ... Read More »

ICESat: Space will get unprecedented view of Earth’s ice

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The American space agency has launched a laser into orbit to measure the condition of Earth’s ice cover. BBC The satellite mission, called ICESat-2, should provide more precise information on how these frozen surfaces are being affected by global warming. Antarctica, Greenland and the ice floating on the Arctic Ocean have all lost volume in recent decades. ICESat-2 will track ongoing change in unprecedented detail from its vantage point some 500km above the planet. The satellite was taken up by ... Read More »

Snailfish: how we found a new species in one of the ocean’s deepest places

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From an unmanned submersible, protected by a casing of stainless steel almost an inch thick and a window made from super strong sapphire crystal, we can observe the life that thrives at our planet’s most extreme and… Authors: The Conversation Thanks to technology and sheer material strength, we can temporarily trespass into this high pressure environment. But in stark contrast to the robust deep sea imaging equipment we rely on, the creatures our camera records look extremely fragile. Four-and-a-half miles ... Read More »

How to eat well – and save the planet

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Switching to a healthier diet can reduce an individual’s water footprint by as much as 55%. BBC According to new research, turning vegetarian has the biggest impact, but even cutting down on meat gives a saving of at least 10%. Shifting to a healthy diet is a “win-win situation”, say researchers. Citizens will be healthier and their food can be produced using less of one of our most precious natural resources – water. “The main message is that if you ... Read More »

Mobile platforms can give refugees access to vital information when they arrive in Australia

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Waves of asylum seekers emerging from conflict zones in Myanmar, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere are expected to add more than one million people to global resettlement needs this year. Authors: The Conversation These refugees face a world of closing doors, but they also offer economic opportunities and cultural enrichment to countries that welcome them. While some refugees are integrating well in regional Australia, others still face significant challenges in the capital cities. As concerned researchers, we are interested ... Read More »

How Brexit has revived controversy over the Elgin Marbles in Britain

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The Parthenon Sculptures have been the subject of debate for more than 200 years. With Theresa May scurrying around the EU trying to deliver Brexit, Greece is quite right to probe the possibility of bringing the treasures home. Dominic Selwood Independent It seems unlikely that several hundred tonnes of marble from Mount Pentelicus near Athens could have a significant role to play in Brexit. But, following a letter from the Greek government to Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, that is exactly what is now happening. Lydia ... Read More »

Lesson from Brazil: Museums are not forever

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We now know what history going up in flames looks like. On Sept. 2, the National Museum of Brazil lit up Rio de Janeiro’s night sky. Chip Colwell The Conversation Perhaps started by an errant paper hot air balloon landing on the roof or a short circuit in a laboratory, the fire gutted the historic 200-year-old building. Likely gone are a collection of resplendent indigenous ceremonial robes, the first dinosaur found in South America, Portuguese royal furniture, ancient Egyptian mummies, ... Read More »

How solar kits and battery lamps are replacing kerosene across Africa

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For decades, people in rural Africa have been using sooty kerosene lamps to dimly light their homes. Jörg Peters The Conversation But in recent years households, even in poor areas, have started to replace their kerosene lamps with non-rechargeable dry-cell battery driven lamps and solar kits. This is happening largely without any governmental or donor involvement. These devices are equipped with light-emitting diodes (LED) that have become significantly cheaper over the years. This has, in turn, made them a highly ... Read More »

Brazil museum fire: ‘incalculable’ loss as 200-year-old Rio institution gutted

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The Museu Nacional houses artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil Dom Phillips The Guardian Brazil’s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been consumed by fire, and much of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed. The fire at Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum began after it closed to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, ... Read More »

What would happen if we banned emails at the weekends

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Maybe we all need ‘the right to disconnect’ Chris Stokel-Walker BBC For the average working person, there’s no greater feeling than powering down your computer and kissing goodbye to your avalanche of work emails for the day. If we’re lucky enough to disconnect from the job on evenings and weekends, we’re overjoyed to leave work email and the stress that comes with it in the office. But experts say we’re increasingly failing to do so, instead bringing the burden home ... Read More »

Labyrinthine investigation concludes the Minotaur’s lair never existed

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Long held to be a known archaeological site, the Labyrinth of Crete was never built, says a new study. Fotis Kapetopoulos reports. Since the late nineteenth century, archaeologists, documentary-makers and novelists have asserted that the Cretan Labyrinth – the lair of the terrifying Minotaur – was a real place. But now a major paper suggests that the legendary maze was just that – legend, a figment of collective imagination. The labyrinth is popularly held to have been in the Palace ... Read More »

Vitamin D: a pseudo-vitamin for a pseudo-disease

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We are still in love with vitamins a century after they were discovered, with half the US and UK population taking a supplement. Tim Spector The Conversation Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – is the favourite and is believed to have the most proven benefits. Governments, including the UK government, have said that the evidence for vitamin D’s health benefits is so overwhelming that every adult should take it as a supplement for at least six months of the ... Read More »

The surprising role cheese played in human evolution

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A solid white mass found in a broken jar in an Ancient Egyptian tomb has turned out to be the world’s oldest example of solid cheese. Penny Bickle The Conversation Probably made mostly from sheep or goats milk, the cheese was found several years ago by archaeologists in the ancient tomb of Ptahmes, who was a high-ranking Egyptian official. The substance was identified after the archaeology team carried out biomolecular identification of its proteins. This 3,200-year-old find is exciting because ... Read More »